There is perhaps no other recipe that makes me feel more like a revolutionary in the kitchen than this one. I grew up, as I trust many of you did, on the Velveeta and Kraft versions of this dish, where the “cheese” is like some freeze dried concoction made for astronauts. It is most certainly not of this earth.
I knew I was in love when I married into this recipe. It’s from my mother-in-law, and yes, her name is Pixie, but that’s a family story for another day. Given my affinity for warm, mushy, full-fat food, I’m guessing it really will kill me some day. But, there are worse ways to go, so I’ve made my peace with that. For these purposes, I mean “killer” as in “most excellent, dude.”
The recipe lends itself easily to doubling, tripling, quadrupling. It also freezes well, so I generally make up a big batch and then freeze half. Take care to store it uncooked in a vessel you can later bake in directly from the freezer.
1. Cook 1 pound of macaroni noodles (or shells, or pipettes, or spirals) as per package instructions, on the side of al dente. Drain and set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 350°.
3. In a medium-size cooking pot over medium heat, melt 1/4 cup butter, then add 1/4 cup flour, stirring to form a roux.
4. Stir into the roux 2-1/2 cups of half & half or whole milk (or whatever fat content combination you prefer). I typically use 1-1/2 cups half & half and 1 cup of 2% milk.
5. Add 1-1/2 cups of parmesan cheese. There is room for great variation here. I use whatever I have on hand, but prefer to stick with the Italian cheeses. Parmesan fresh grated or from a jar both work, as does any combination of it with grated, shredded or cubed asagio, mozzarella, romano, fontina or provolone.
6. Cube, grate or shred 12 ounces of cheddar cheese into the pot. I am partial to Cabot Vermont White Cheddar, and generally use a mix of extra sharp and seriously sharp. Use whatever cheese you prefer, keeping in mind that the higher quality cheese you use, the more deliciously cheesy it’ll turn out.
7. Continuously stir the cheese sauce over medium heat until all the cheese has melted into creamy goodness.
8. Mix the noodles and the cheese sauce thoroughly, then pour the mixture into a greased baking dish. The recipe will fill one 13″x 9″ rectangular pan, or you can portion it out into baking dishes of your choosing, freezing some for later use. Keep in mind that the macaroni and cheese will cook faster if you put it in a vessel that has a short depth.
9. Sprinkle the top lightly with bread crumbs or crushed crackers.
10. Cover and bake at 350° for 30 minutes, or until the cheese sauce starts to bubble. Remove the cover and continue baking for 10-15 minutes until the top is slightly browned. You can assemble the recipe and leave it in the fridge or a cool kitchen for several hours prior to cooking. The pasta will absorb moisture, so you may need to add a little extra milk if you are planning to do that.
11. Serve warm. Salt and pepper to taste. When fixing leftovers, you may want to mix in a little extra milk during re-heating to keep the sauce creamy.
This recipe is offered in total rebellion as part of Recipe Rites.
© Jennifer S. and harvestliberty.net, 2013.