09 February 2011

Mac n Cheese

I've often been asked for my recipe for Mac n Cheese. I don't have one. I just make it and this is sort of ... how it goes. 

Melted Butter

Start with a roux. Melt butter over medium heat - usually about 3 Tablespoons. Add flour, about the same amount. Cook the flour for a bit so it doesn't taste like flour. Add milk or cream. How much, well, probably about 2 cups or so. Whisk the milk into the butter mixture slowly so it doesn't lump up. 
Stir frequently so the mixture will not burn. Once the mixture is thickened, take it off the heat and add cheese. I use a sharp cheddar, but sometimes I add other grated cheeses that I have on hand - the majority is still sharp cheddar because I want that flavor. Taste the mixture - see if it needs salt, and add some black pepper (a requirement to me in a good Mac n Cheese). 
Cheese sauce
While all this is taking place, cook the pasta. Anything with a hole in it is good and if the pasta is ridged - like a penne for example, all the better, more for the sauce to stick to. The way I measure the amount of pasta for a vessel is by taking the vessel I plan to bake the Mac n Cheese and pour in uncooked pasta to measure half full of the vessel. Then cook that amount of pasta. It will fit the vessel when the cream/cheese mixture is added. Drain the cooked pasta, add to the cheese mixture and then pour into vessel (that you've sprayed w/cooking spray - after measuring the pasta amount). Top with a bit more grated cheese. 
Cover with foil that has also been sprayed with cooking spray (so the cheese won't stick to the foil). Bake at 350˚for about 30 minutes. Uncover the pasta and then bake a few minutes more - until the cheese is bubbly. Let it rest for a few minutes and then serve. 
Small portion for the freezer
This is a great recipe for the freezer. You can make it all the way through and cool and freeze, or make it until it's added to the vessel for baking, cool, cover with cling film, then cover with heavy duty foil. Make a note on the foil to remove the cling film, replace foil and cook in a 350˚oven until cooked through, remove foil, etc. etc. 
Mac n Cheese

If this seems much more difficult than boxed mac n crap, well, you're wrong. Perhaps, it's best to try on the weekend first to give you the time you need to try something new, but it's not a complex thing and it will be part of a great meal later in the week. 
This is a decadent side for Spinach and Mushroom Quiche.

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