Here’s a summary of a couple related conversations that I was not in, but were tangentially related to me:
Mom (to my brother): So, I just want you to know that I’ve already purchased my casket, so you guys don’t need to worry about that.
Brother: Great, can you pass the mac and cheese?
Cousin: Don’t joke about that, it’s very good of her to take that off your mind.
Brother: It’s ok, Adam probably makes good mac and cheese.
WHEW, DUDE, SO YOUR MOM ISN’T DYING THEN??
No, that’ll be a much more drawn out process I’m sure.
Anyways, I do make a very good mac and cheese. Which is good, because really, who doesn’t enjoy mac and cheese? The world is divided into three types of people:
- People that like mac and cheese
- Lactose-intolerant people
(This list doesn’t include vegans, because if you’re vegan and still reading this blog, that’s on you.)
So, the secret to a good mac and cheese is…well…it’s knowing where to steal a good recipe from. I confess, I pretty much use Alton Brown’s recipe. Why wouldn’t you trust this guy?
But, his secret to a great mac and cheese is making the cheese sauce before you assemble the final product. Which isn’t too hard, so long as you temper in the eggs and don’t let them scramble.
I used jack cheese for this version, since my lady doesn’t react well to orange and yellow cheeses, but cheddar is probably a better match for this dish.
As far as bread crumbs (which some people will probably kill you over if you don’t put them on top of your casserole), I’m ambivalent on them. It’s kind of a pain in the ass for me, at least in this recipe, because you have to sauté them in butter separately, and that’s just another pan to clean. Also, I forgot to get panko bread crumbs when I was at the grocery, so I didn’t use them.
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Makes 8 servings
From Alton Brown
1/2 pound elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon powdered mustard
3 cups milk
1/2 cup yellow onion, minced
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 large egg
12 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup panko bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the macaroni.
While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and whisk for about five minutes, making sure to break up any lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes until thickened, and remove the bay leaf.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg. Add a small amount of the milk sauce to the egg, and stir. Slowly add more of the sauce to the egg until about a cup is mixed in with the egg. Pour the mixture back in with the rest of the sauce.
Stir 3/4 of the cheese into the sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.
Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.