Should Thursday be Food Thursday?
In addition to being a witty devil and a swell writer, I am also a fine cook. Don’t be jealous. There’s a lot of pressure that goes with being good at lots of things.
But Macaroni & Cheese is one of my FAVORITE comfort foods, and I think I just found my perfect, perfect cheese sauce Mac & Cheese. My traditional recipe involves shredding the cheese and mixing it all up with the pasta with some eggs, butter, milk, and seasoning. But a lot of folks prefer the sauce style, including Child & Fella.
So I bastardized a not-kid-friendly Food Network recipe to come up with the following:
Bastardized Food Network Mac & Cheese (really, people. Fancier is not always better.)
8 T butter
1/2 c. flour
4 c. milk 2% or higher milkfat. (skim cannot be trusted)
1 lb macaroni, elbows, penne, cavatappi–whatever kind of pasta you like to bake.
2 oz swiss cheese
4 oz each, two other kinds of cheese. This time I used sharp & mild cheddars. Use your favorites.
salt & pepper
Crumbs for topping (sometimes I use pretzel crumbs, this time I used Ritz Cracker Crumbs)
1. Preheat oven to 350. Shred the cheese. Or be smarter than I am, and buy it pre-shredded.
2. Melt the butter in a sauce pan, and then stir in the flour to make a roux. Let it get all bubbly and nutty tan. Stir in the milk. Season it with salt and pepper.
3. Cook it over medium or medium-low heat, whisk occasionally, until it gets thick and bubbly. Once it’s thickened, put it on low heat, just to keep it warm.
4. While the milk sauce is working, boil the pasta al dente. Let it hang out in the collander to drain, and while it’s drying out, turn up the beschamel (that’s fancy for milk sauce) to med-low, and stir in the cheeses. All of them. Yum.
5. Grease a casserole pan. We use a nice Pyrex one. But you can really use any oven-safe vessel that’ll fit this amount of delicious. Mix the cheese sauce and macaroni together, pour it into the casserole dish, top it with crumbs , cover it with foil, bake 20 minutes.
6. Remove the foil, bake another 10 minutes to brown the crumbs and incite the bubble.
7. Rest the concoction for 10 minutes before trying to eat it, or you’ll have little wisps of mouth-roof-skin peeling off for the next week.
If you’re lucky enough to be childless, making this for grown ups, or if your kids’ palettes have diversified, do yourself a favor and soften some shallot in with the butter before you make the roux. That is a DIVINE addition.
ALSO: Unless you’re a health nut, or your domestic partner forces the issue, do not use whole wheat elbows in this recipe. They’re too tough and nutty–even when overcooked. This is a recipe for regular semolina.