Basic Macaroni and Cheese

November 17, 2006 · 3 comments · Print This Post

in Dinner, Pasta / Grains

Macaroni and Cheese is my all-time favorite meal. When I was a kid I practically lived on the Blue Box Kraft version — seriously, who didn’t? I was a huge pain in the ass though and I would go through phases where I would only eat certain types, for instance, I vividly remember a 3 year stint where I only liked the spiral shaped version. I also had this annoying habit of carrying around the little pouch of cheese powder while my mother was boiling the macaroni. I think those incidents are great examples we can use to confirm that I was a total control freak from birth.

Obviously, homemade Macaroni and Cheese is about 3000 times better than anything that comes out of a box. The recipe I use is based on one from the Better Homes and Garden’s cookbook. Essentially you sauté a diced onion in butter until softened (not browned). Then melt 3 tablespoons of butter in the same pan, whisk in 3 tablespoons of flour (and salt & pepper to taste). Cook the flour and onion paste for a minute or two and then add 3 cups of skim milk. Bring the milk and flour mixture to a boil (stirring frequently). Next add 3 cups of cheese. I like to use extra sharp cheddar and gruyere. Stir the cheese mixture until everything is melted together and thickened. Meanwhile, cook 3 cups of dry elbow or rotini macaroni (lately I’ve been buying the Healthy Harvest Whole Wheat Rotini). Pour the cooked and drained macaroni into a casserole dish, add the cheese mixture, and top with Italian bread crumbs. Finally, bake in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes.

Your mom will be so proud of you!

The Cheesiest!
It’s the Cheesiest
Chop for Flavor
Chop for Flavor
Melt
Melt
Soften
Soften
Add 3 Tablespoons
Add 3 Tablespoons
Wisk in 3 Tablespoons of Flour
Whisk in 3 Tablespoons of Flour
Stir in the Milk, Boil
Stir in the Milk, Boil
Place Cooked Pasta in Dish
Place Cooked Pasta in Dish
Melt the Cheeses
Melt the Cheeses
Heat and Stir Until Thickened
Heat and Stir Until Thickened
Layer with Sauce & Bread Crumbs
Layer with Sauce & Bread Crumbs
Way Better Than The Blue Box
Way Better Than “The Blue Box”

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 RobynT November 17, 2006 at 10:04 pm

I am new to making mac and cheese (My mom only ever made the box stuff). How do you decide what kind of cheese to use? Is it just based on flavor or do different cheeses change the texture too? I usually use sharp cheddar, but there’s something funny about it… like grainy. hrm… do you hve to buy good cheese? I usually just buy the store brand–which tastes fine in grilled cheese sandwiches and stuff.

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2 Erin November 18, 2006 at 7:36 am

Robyn,

Hi Robyn,

The better the cheeses are the better your mac & cheese will be. I like to use Cabot Sharp Cheddar and gruyere as mentioned. But really it’s just trial and error. Gouda and Monterey Jack are also great additions. I’m not sure what the texture issue you’re having may be, but it may be that you aren’t whisking it quite enough?

My recipe is pretty brief but the food network has many macaroni and cheese recipes that might give you some good ideas. Most of them are essentially the same as mine (make a roux … add cheese … bake). Ina Garten’s recipe is a great example:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,1977,FOOD_9936_32868,00.html

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3 Lis December 5, 2006 at 10:28 am

Hi Erin, I love food tv too and also reading and looking at your pretty pictures, I thought I’d give you my new favorite mac and cheese recipe it’s Giada’s and it’s not really Mac and Cheese so much as an egg noodle casserole but damn it’s yummy, also requires much use of the elliptical machine. (lots of heavy cream…) anyway she advises the use of cooked ham which I did the first time I made it but it was kinda nasty so I’ve been switching it up by using 2 or 3 packets of that chicken that Tyson makes that’s in the tuna isle like this: http://www.tyson.com/Recipes/Product/ViewProduct.aspx?id=101
and I also like to add in frozen peas to the mix. yummy yummy yummy. (Also, I use a lot more parm for the top because crumbly brown top = good) anyway here’s her recipe:
http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,1977,FOOD_9936_31017,00.html

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