Sunday, October 27, 2013

The humble macaroni-and-cheese

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... 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!


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  2. Where's the bacon. I make mine close to the same but cook 4 slices of bacon to crumble into it and use the bacon grease to replace some of the butter.

  3. Patrice,

    Now this is a recipe to borrow :-)
    Thanks for sharing, I prefer homemade anything.......not the box stuff.

  4. I think I use the same recipe! I've also altered it to use peanut butter instead of cheese, usually about a cup, and use buttered crumbs on top. A little bit cheaper and really good for a change.

    1. Peanut Butter? I'm intrigued!! We can't have cow's milk and goat cheese is so expensive that I only dole that out thinly on sandwiches. Can you taste the peanut butter?

  5. That is quite similar to how I make mac 'n cheese, except I use three kinds of cheese. YUM!

  6. I love homemade mac and cheese and never use the box mix. When I need a quick meal for lunch I make a simple version on the stove too, not as tasty as the oven version but healthier than the box stuff and its a recipe my mom's family has made since the 1940s. I never measure anything, but put dry macaroni in a pot and cover with milk, then turn the heat on to get it boiling, then turning the heat down to where its gently boiling and keep it going on the pasta is tender and almost all the milk has been absorbed, its a trick to figure out the amount of milk that works best, then before taking it off the heat add cheese, I prefer a sharp cheddar but occasionally mix it up and add in other types as well. And you add as much cheese as you like. It's grittier than the standard box mix, but delicious and so simple and fast to make. My 2 year old loves it.

  7. We use a similar recipe but leave out the salt and add a can of condensed tomato soup right out of the can. De-lish!--Jo

  8. All you need is some ham chunks thrown in there and it'll be perfect :-)

  9. thank you bellen and patrice.
    cannot have gluten--daughter no dairy, either. small mac 'n' cheeze in freezer case very expensive. this will make daughter and me happy. i love stodging on comfort food, especially in winter or when i am exhausted. many thanks.
    deb harvey

  10. Just a do not have to let your macaroni bubble. I simply add the macroni and cover, turning off the heat. They'll cook just as well w/o the extra energy use.

  11. Oh, you're so mean sometimes Patrice, all I had for lunch today was a pear! I'll try it this week, then again this weekend except I'll replace macaroni with some sliced up spuds and make me some cheesy taters!