Sunday, January 6, 2013

Baked Mac & Cheese

I am originally from Wisconsin - so it is no surprise that I LOVE CHEESE!  Some of my favorites are a smooth goat cheese, fresh slightly wet mozzarella, a nutty and savory parmigiana, Gouda and Irish cheddar at room temperature, a sharp cheddar, and...well, this list could really go on and on.  I came across this website some time back and found it helpful in learning more about where different cheese come from and their best known attributes.  I haven't purchased anything from there, but great info.

Mac and cheese is one of those meals that makes everyone feel a bit youthful when eating.  This version tastes quite different than the boxed version that I remember not only from being a kid, but that boxed version also helped me get through my senior year of college.
This home made baked mac and cheese will have the richness of the cheeses, the creaminess of the rue/milk combination and can sport any type of smaller noodle you would like.  I started it in a french oven on the stove, so I could transfer it direct to the oven to bake.  And when I brought it out of the oven, my very lovable partner in crime said, 'you know it's done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out cheesy.'  Some evenings are damn close to perfect.


Baked Mac & Cheese

Ingredients: 

  • 4 Tbls butter
  • 1/2 Cup flour
  • 8 oz small pasta noodles, approx 1/2 lb
  • 3 Cups whole milk
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1-2 tsp paprika
  • Salt & Pepper to taste after done

Preparation:
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Start boiling water on the stove and cook pasta per package directions.
  • Melt the butter in a large sauce pan or french oven over medium to medium/high heat.  Once melted, add the flour and whisk until fully incorporated.  This is your rue that will help bind everything together when melted.
  • Continue cooking rue over medium heat until boiling.  Slowly, pouring only a little bit at a time, whisking until the milk is fully mixed into the rue.  Be careful not to let the milk boil.  Light simmering is OK, but boiling will cause the milk to start separating.
  • Add both cheeses and allow some time for them to melt and get all gooey.
  • When both cheeses are melted, drain the pasta and add to cheese part of the mac and cheese.  
  • Top with bread crumbs and paprika and place in oven to cook for approx 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown ...and a toothpick comes out cheesy.
  • It's a good idea to let it stand for 5 minutes out of the oven before serving - this WILL be HOT!

Happy Cheesing!!!

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