Monday, March 5, 2012

Easy Mac and Cheese

Growing up, a popular dish with my mother was Mac and Cheese with hot dogs. It was delish. This recipe (from the Amateur Gourmet) is very close to hers. Make a white sauce, add cheese, macaroni, and top with bread crumbs. Don't forget to bake it. Of course if you're me, you'll spend some time in the kitchen picking out macaroni before it goes into the oven (and trying to make sure it doesn't look like you've been eating it).

[Last week's Washington Post Food Section had several pages devoted to the American staple - including ways to "dress it up" - if you so desired.]

Easy Mac and Cheese
Summary: An easy, creamy mac and cheese from David Waltuck’s “Staffmeals.”

  • Course (kosher) salt
  • 1 package (16 ounces) ridged elbow macaroni
  • 3 cups heavy (or whipping) cream
  • 2 1/2 cups grated sharp yellow Cheddar cheese (about 10 ounces)
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • Dash of Tabasco sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan (I used more! And added Pecorino for good measure)
  • 1/3 cup fine dry bread crumbs (homemade or store-bought)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Bring a large stockpot of water and 1/4 cup of the salt to a boil over high heat.
  3. When the water is boiling, add the macaroni and cook, stirring occasionally, until flexible but very al dente, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain, then let the macaroni stand in the colander under cold running water until chilled. Drain again, then transfer to a medium-size baking dish or shallow casserole and set aside.
  4. Bring the cream to a boil in a small, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat (watch it, though: you don’t want it to bubble up!). Reduce the heat to low and stir in the grated Cheddar, onion, garlic, mustard, Worcestershire, Tabasco, pepper, and salt to taste. Stir over low heat just until the cheese is completely melted, then remove the pan from the heat and taste and adjust the seasoning; the flavor should be strong.
  5. Pour the cheese sauce over the macaroni in the baking dish and stir thoroughly to coat. Sprinkle first the grated Parmesan, then the bread crumbs, over the mixture and bake until the sauce bubbles and the top is golden brown and crusty, 30 to 40 minutes. Let stand a minute or two before serving.
Quick notes
If you want to cook this ahead for a dinner party, make the sauce and boil the mac, stirring them together in the baking dish and then cover with plastic before refrigerating. An hour before you want to cook it, take it out of the fridge to come to room temperature and top with the Parmesan and breadcrumbs just before it goes into the oven.

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)
Cooking time: 40 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 6

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