Thursday, November 28, 2013

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese


This Mac and cheese is nothing like the boxed variety you may have tried in the past. This made from scratch version with it's blend of four cheeses, special spice blend and a crown of buttered bread crumbs will turn you into a believer of home-made popular foods. This Classic American comfort food can be made anytime of the year. In my house, this dish is on heavy rotation especially during the colder months. Here's how you make it...

Serving Size: Feeds 6-8 sufficiently.

-Large frying pan.
-Large saucepan.
-Shallow 3 Quart baking dish.

-1 pound elbow macaroni.
-4 cups of a shredded three cheese pack containing sharp cheddar, Monterey Jack, Swiss and Colby cheeses (or any cheeses of your choice that melt easily).
-1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese.
-3 cups whole milk.
-1/4 cup all-purpose flour.
-7 tablespoons of unsalted butter (divide it into 3 tablespoons and 4 tablespoons).
-1 1/2 cups coarse, fresh breadcrumbs (about 5 slices of bread). I used a food processor to turn the slices of bread to breadcrumbs.
-1 clove of garlic, minced.
-Salt for cooking your marcaroni.
-1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
-1/2 teaspoon chilli powder.
-1/2 teaspoon cayenne.
-1/2 teaspoon celery salt.
-1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.
-1/2 teaspoon paprika.
-Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celcius).
-Fill your large saucepan 3/4 way full with water. Add 1 teaspoon of salt to the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook the marcaroni according to package instructions. Cook only until the marcaroni is not quite al dente. Completely drain the marcaroni in your colander and set aside.
-On medium heat, melt the 3 tablespoons of butter. If you opt to use the garlic, add it into the hot butter and sautee for about 2 minutes, stirring often.
-Stir in the fresh breadcrumbs and stir until all the breadcrumbs are coated in the butter/ garlic mixture. Set aside.
-In the same saucepan in which you cooked your marcaroni, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter. Add the flour and whisk vigorously to prevent any lumps from forming. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the mixture bubble for 1 minute without browning. In this step, your cooking the flour to get rid of the raw flour taste.
-Gradually whisk in the milk, raise the heat to medium and bring to a boil, whisking frequently.
-Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the cheeses. Whisk well until the cheeses have melted into the sauce. Season with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper. Stir. Add in the spices and stir.
-Stir in the pasta. Transfer the coated pasta to the baking dish and sprinkle evenly with the buttered crumbs.
-Bake for about 25 minutes or until the crumbs are browned and the sauce is bubbling. Let the marcaroni cook for about 5 minutes, then serve hot.
Serving Suggestion: Pairs wonderfully with meatloaf (see my meatloaf post).