Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Macaroni and Cheese...the Good Stuff

I have long argued that boxed macaroni and cheese, the 99 cent kind that could theoretically come shaped like cartoon characters, is a completely different beast than homemade, "actual" macaroni and cheese. Each are delicious and wonderful in their own ways, but they are by no means the same thing. So for the first time in awhile, I rolled up my sleeves and made the good stuff.

I have made this recipe once before, and made the fatal mistake of not using the sharpest possible cheddar known to mankind. As a result, it was bland, bland, and generally eh. This time, however, my friend brought over "Xtra Xtra Sharp Cheddar" and we had a ball. Honestly, I didn't think we had quite enough of it after mixing it all together, but I had other cheddar lying around that I used to fill it out. It worked rather dandily.

I also love that crunch of the breadcrumbs on top compared to the creaminess of the rest of the dish. Completely delightful. It may well be my favorite distinction between homemade mac n'cheese and the boxed stuff.

I also found my camera! Huzzah! So while I didn't get to take pictures of this when I made it (alas), pictures are making their comeback.

And now, the recipe, from The Cook's Manual. I looked for a "classic macaroni and cheese" of some sort in my Cook's Bible, and couldn't find it. Strange, non? Considering it's one of the most classic homemade dishes of all time. Maybe I'm just an idiot who can't use a table of contents/index. But still, really don't think so. Either way, I bought that cookbook for the supercalifragilistic instructions on cooking technique, not the recipe selection. So I'm not too upset.

Ingredients

4 oz macaroni

2 oz butter

1 oz plain flour

1 pt milk

6 oz cheddar

3 tbsp finely chopped parsley

salt and pepper

3 ½ oz dry breadcrumbs

1 ½ oz Parm cheese

Directions

Preheat to 350; grease gratin dish.

Cook the macaroni in boiling salted water until just tender, drain.

Melt the butter or marg in saucepan. Add flour and cook two min, then add milk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 5 min.

Remove pan from heat; add the macaroni, cheese, and parsley to the sauce and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer the mixture to the dish, spreading evenly.

Toss breadcrumbs and parm cheese together, spread over macaroni.

Bake until golden brown, about 30-35 minutes.

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