31 May 2009

Mac and Cheese

I love the old-fashioned, roux-based, macaroni and cheese. The kind that hits your stomach and heads straight to your hips to set up camp. This recipe can be a bit tricky if you have never made a roux before and I'll be the first to admit that it does take quite a while to make. But it is so worth it. I have made the recipes that call for evaporated milk, used to thicken without a roux. Too sweet. I've made the soup-based, quick-cook recipes. Good, but they don't hold a candle to the old-fashioned kind. Now, this recipe is NOT low fat. In fact, put all thoughts about fat content and calories under lock and key in your head and do not let them out until all the mac and cheese is long gone. You'll thank me for that bit of advice.

3T butter
3T flour
1 cup milk (skim is fine)
1 cup half and half
1/2 tsp dry mustard (or 1 tsp prepared Mustard)
8-10 oz. macaroni (your choice of variety), cooked
4 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

A couple of notes: I don't know why I am always out of dry mustard. I can't think of what I use it in but this mac and cheese recipe and I buy it all the time. But I couldn't find any when I went to take pictures of the ingredients, so I used prepared mustard. I have not found that it makes a bit of difference whether you use dry or prepared. I like to use small shells instead of elbow macaroni. The shells have those nice little folds that fill up with cheese sauce.

To make the roux, melt the 3T butter in a large pot and add the flour. Whisk together over medium heat until it boils and then continue whisking constantly while cooking for one minute. You don't want it to brown, but it does need to cook a bit.

With the burner still on medium heat, slowly whisk the milk and half and half into the roux. Add the salt (to taste, I add about a 1/2 tsp) and mustard. Keep whisking...don't stop now! If you don't whisk, the milk will scorch. Now keep whisking until the mixture boils and thickens. It should coat the back of a spoon.

Remove from heat and add 3 cups (or 3 big handfuls) of cheese to the pot and stir. You can definitely add a couple of extra handfuls of cheese. :) Stir until smooth.

Add the macaroni and stir until combined. Pour mixture into a buttered 9x13 pan and bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Remove from oven...

now add that fourth cup of cheese. Sprinkle it on top and bake for 10 more minutes.

You want a bite, don't ya? Mmmmm. The time it takes to prepare this recipe (the whisking sucks, I won't lie) is completely worth it!


MrsLavendula said...

wow! the mac and cheese looks really creamy! now im hungry!

janet said...

That looks so yummy!

Sunshine Mom said...