Sunday, March 21, 2010

Macaroni and Cheese

I love macaroni and cheese, although most of my life the only mac and cheese I knew came from that blue box. I actually used to not like the homemade version that I would encounter because it wasn't what I was used to. But that all changed a few years ago when I made my first attempt and this recipe has just strengthened that love. In fact, the last time I had the blue box variety I could barely eat it and just kept thinking about how fake it tasted.

This recipe is from The Pioneer Woman, it's on her Web site and in her cookbook. It is really pretty simple, in fact while I was making it I was thinking about how it really is not that much more work than the boxed variety. I definitely recommend this recipe, it's really easy and tasty and is total comfort food. One thing though is I do recommend grating your cheese yourself. Yes, it's kind of a pain but I've made this both ways and it is so much better with self-grated cheese. It's more moist and flavorful than pre-shredded and totally worth the work.

Macaroni and Cheese

4 Cups Macaroni
1/2 Stick Butter (1/4 cup)
1/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
2 1/2 Cups Milk (I used our standard 2%)
2 Teaspoons Dry Mustard, heaping
1 Egg, beaten
1 Pound Cheese, Grated
1 Teaspoon Salt*
1 Teaspoon Season Salt*
1 Teaspoon Pepper*

Cook macaroni until still firm; drain.
Beat egg. At this point I recommend having every remaining ingredient all measured out; it will make the next few steps much easier.
Melt butter in a big pot and then sprinkle in the flour and whisk constantly for 5 minutes over medium-low heat.
Add milk and mustard and whisk until smooth and then cook for another 5 minutes, still whisking constantly.
Prepare your egg by slowly adding 1/4 of the sauce to the beaten egg, stirring constantly until smooth. This keeps you from having scrambled eggs in your mac and cheese.
Add the egg to the rest of the sauce and stir constantly until smooth.
Add all but 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the cheese and stir until melted (if you want to serve immediately then add all the cheese now). Add seasonings.
Add in drained macaroni and stir until totally covered. You can serve now or...
Pour into a buttered dish (I've used a 2 quart casserole and a 9x13, both work). Top with remaining cheese.
Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

Check out Pioneer Woman's site for additional suggested seasonings.

* PW calls for 1/2 teaspoon of these seasonings, but we think it's better with 1 teaspoon of each.