Now that chillier weather is upon us, it's instinctive to gravitate toward "comfort food." And what's more comforting than the humble macaroni-and-cheese? For those who have never tried anything but the boxed stuff, you're in for a treat.
Last year Older Daughter went in search of a homemade recipe and found an excellent one here.
While Older Daughter often makes a single serving for lunch, I "octuple" the recipe for a family portion.
I start out with a pound of macaroni...
...and put it on to boil (I wait until the water is boiling before adding the pasta).
While the macaroni is boiling, I preheat the oven to 400F and then make the sauce, starting with butter. Since I'm using homemade butter, I measure eight tablespoons (half a cup) using displacement (putting the butter in one cup of water). I always use displacement measurement (remember your Archimedes?) for measuring stuff like butter, shortening, peanut butter, etc.
Mixing melted butter and flour.
When it gets too thick, I drizzle in some milk. The milk has to be drizzled at first, or the sauce will get lumpy. When all the flour/butter is smooth, then I can add the rest of the milk without forming lumps.
The sauce has to be stirred for about ten minutes (I usually asign this task to one or the other kid) to thicken. Meanwhile I assemble the spices.
As with any recipe, the amount of each spice to add depends on personal taste. I just tend to wing it.
Next step, grating the cheese.
Once the cheese is added to the sauce, it melts very rapidly.
The result is a rich, cheesy, creamy sauce.
By this point the macaroni is cooked...
...so I drain it...
...and put it back in the same pot.
The cheese sauce is poured over the macaroni.
Can you see why this beats the boxed stuff?
I use a Pyrex dish for baking.
Before baking, I sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top. The recipe calls for a mixture of bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese, but the kids don't like the bread crumbs so I just use the cheese.
Bake until the top is browned. The perfect comfort food for a chilly autumn evening!