Friday, November 19, 2010

The Only Mac & Cheese Recipe that You'll Ever Need

Speaking of religious experiences, I’ve got Oprah’s “Favorite Things” episode on mute. It’s been on for about 4 minutes & people are already on their knees crying.

Well, I can’t give you a diamond-encrusted watch, but I can make your holidays just a little better by bestowing on you this magnificent macaroni & cheese recipe. It’s that good, I tell you. It’s the only recipe for mac I’ll ever use again. I’m not even gonna look at other recipes, I promise.

The recipe that I started with is from the Everyday Food cookbook (the first one). I’ve made the recipe several times, but each time I made it, I was looking for something more. I found myself having to doctor up the leftovers with hot sauce, etc.

Be advised, however, that this mac & cheese is not the custardy, soupy kind you find at some places. That particular brand of mac is quite disgusting to me. You know how I hate eggs, so I’m finicky when it comes to custard. This version might seem dry to some of you. I wouldn’t take mine any other way, but if you are so inclined, you could add more milk or even some eggs (a 14 oz. can of tomatoes maybe) to your mix just before you mix in the pasta & bake it. However, to me, this recipe is perfect as written.

Shane is jockeying between the dishes of the night
French-Barrett Mac & Cheese
Adapted from Everyday Food

Serves 8
• Coarse salt and ground pepper
• 1 pound elbow pasta, cooked and drained
• 4 tablespoons butter
• 1 small onion, chopped (I used a medium-sized onion)
• 1/4 cup (spooned and leveled) all-purpose flour
• 4 cups milk
• 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, (optional)
• 4 ¼ c. of cheese (I used a mix of 3 c. white Cabot cheddar, 1 c. mozz, and about a ¼ cup romano which has a lot of character. I highly recommend it.)
• ¼ or ½ c. panko
• 8 sundried tomatoes, drained of excess oil & chopped
1 heaping T. Dijon mustard


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook pasta, and drain; reserve. Meanwhile, in a 5-quart heavy pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Whisk in flour to coat onion. In a slow steady stream, whisk in milk until there are no lumps.

2. Cook, whisking often, until mixture is thick and bubbly and coats the back of a wooden spoon, 6 to 8 minutes (mine took about 15 minutes to get to a good consistency). Stir in cayenne, if using & mustard, and the cheese mixture. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. As cheese mixture melts, stir in chopped sundried tomatoes. (If you wanted to add spinach or any other veggies, this would be the time to do it.

3. Toss pasta with cheese mixture. Spoon some out into a ramekin & taste for seasoning (& to make sure it’s not poison, hehe. This is always my excuse for sampling.). Transfer to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or individual dishes. Set aside.

4. Toss panko together with remaining 1/4 cup cheese mixture, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Top pasta with breadcrumb mixture. Bake until top is golden, about 30 minutes

Be sure to sample the sauce/mac before you transfer it to the baking dish. I added quite a bit more salt & some more seasonings. Just keep adding things until it tastes right for you. I’ll try to remember to pay closer attention next time I make it & I’ll update this with the additional stuff I added.

We took this mac to Shane & Sarah’s Southern-themed potluck on a Saturday night. We had about half a pan left. By Sunday night, the pan was empty, in the sink, ready to be washed. So much for eating this through the week. Truth be told, we did get a few lunches out of it, but dang, it went fast. It was truly the best mac ever. I’m taking it to my family Thanksgiving feast next week.

I haven’t ruled out the idea of making some for this weekend. Sarah’s coming over. She’d asked me for the recipe & I feel like I should give her a tutorial, hehe.


Jacquelyn said...

Yum, I love the addition of sun-dried tomatoes! Thanks for sharing this recipe, it sounds like it was a hit! I can't wait to try it. 3 cups of Cabot cheddar? I can't argue with that :) The farm families who own Cabot appreciate your support, and so do I!

Anonymous said...

Hey, pretentious foodie! :)

Shane and I are making this tonight for a work potluck that I'm going to tomorrow (I was assigned "vegetables," so of course I immediately thought about mac n cheese)! We'll probably be calling you 572 times to ask questions about various things!

Can't wait to see you this weekend!

And yay for new blog posts! I love reading them (even the meaty ones!)!

- Sarah