My recipe has evolved over the years, mainly because I am obsessed with the stuff and want to make it as yummilicious as possible. (Yes that's a word because I say it is.)
I started with my grandfather's basic recipe--elbow noodles, extra sharp cheddar cheese (hoop cheese if you're a big spender), eggs, milk, salt 'n pepper. I played around with the ratio of ingredients and came up with a pretty tasty concoction (very similar to my Papa's) that my of my friends and family consumed without complaint for years. But it still needed a little sumin' sumin'.
For a while, Brandon (the hubs) has been making sauces using a bechamel base (alfredo sauce, etc.) and we had sauced many a pasta with bechamel just. (This is a Mitch Hedburg reference. If you do not know who Mitch Hedburg is, shame on you. Stop reading this, and go Google him. Now...go on).
Any who, I figured since the bechamel seemed to make everything else delicious, it would make the mac 'n cheese more delicious as well. At Brandon's prompting, I attempted my new and improved mac 'n cheese recipe for the first time at Thanksgiving dinner last year. It was the bomb snappety if I say so myself.
So, this is the recipe I used to make my sister's Homecoming Home-cooked Mac 'n Cheese:
5 Tbsp. butter (or 7 Tbsp. margarine)
4 Tbsp. flour
3 C milk
The rest of the ingredients:
1 12-ounce package of elbow macaroni or rotini
1 lb of extra sharp cheddar cheese (buy the block, not the pre-shredded dried out cornstarch-laced stuff)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Grate the cheese. Get a large pot of water, heavily salted, boiling. Begin cooking your pasta to al dente. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the bechamel.
Melt the butter. Stir in the flour. Stir constantly under flour browns. (It will turn a caramel color and start to smell like movie popcorn. This take 2-3 minutes.)
Gradually add the milk, whisking as you pour.
Whisk frequently until sauce thickens and darkens.
This part takes about 5 minutes, but if you want a thicker sauce, just cook longer.
Once it is finished, turn to low.
Now comes the tricky part...
In a bowl, scramble the four eggs.
Temper in the bechamel sauce. (Slowly pour about a cup the bechamel into the eggs while continuously whisking. Then, slowly pour the eggs into the rest of the bechamel while continuously whisking.)
Add the grated cheese to the sauce. If you wish, you can reserve a small amount to sprinkle on top.
After the pasta finishes cooking, drain and return to cooking pot. Pour the sauce over the cooked pasta and stir until completely mixed.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Spray a 9x13 baking pan with non-stick spray and pour the mixture into the pan. If you reserved any cheese, sprinkle on top.
You can also sprinkle crushed Ritz crackers on top before baking. My husband really likes adding the crackers but the rest of my family does not really care for them. So, on ours, I added crackers to a small portion.
Bake for 30 minutes or until warmed through and cheese is completely melted.
|The Mac 'n Cheese post bake. (The left side isn't burnt--that's crumbled Ritz crackers.)|
I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
The next night, we got to watch the Braves win at Turner Field. Go Bravos!
Until next time...