Monday, June 30, 2008

Mom's Macaroni and Cheese

This recipe post appears primarily because I saw this post on another blog about the best Macaroni and Cheese in the District of Columbia. Mac and cheese is one of those comfort foods that you can always turn to. The post listed several restaurants in the DC area that offer the "mother of all comfort foods." But you have to be willing to pay dearly for them (then again, didn't I just note that it had been some time since the Brave Astronaut had been out to a nice dinner?). Of the ones on the list, I have eaten at number 5 and 6, but have not had the M&C:
  1. Rustico
  2. Zola
  3. Equinox
  4. Hank's Oyster Bar
  5. Vidalia
  6. Les Halles
  7. Logan Tavern
I will readily admit to eating my fair share of the boxed macaroni and cheese (yes, the one with the orange powder) and hey it was good. My son is quite fond of the boxed M&C, but we do get him the organic versions or white cheddar. The orange powder is still a little alarming. I will refrain from the recipe that uses the boxed M&C, ground beef, onions, and Cream of Mushroom soup. Some things need to be left in the past.

But the post about good M&C reminded me of how much I loved my mother's version. She would make it from scratch and I never saw her do it from a recipe, so I am winging this recipe. But it's not hard.

  • block of cheddar cheese (pound?)
  • block of Swiss cheese (pound?)
  • milk
  • elbow macaroni
  • bread crumbs
First my mother would melt the cheese with the milk, making a white, creamy sauce. Simultaneously she would cook the elbow macaroni (my recollection is that she used a full box). When the macaroni is finished, drain, and place in a large oven-safe casserole dish.

Pour the cheese sauce over the macaroni and stir well (there should be enough sauce so that there is good coverage of the macaroni). Set aside to cool. (This was the best time of the day, I had the bad habit of sneaking into the kitchen to snatch cheesy elbows off the top of the casserole and then making it look like I hadn't been there.)

Sprinkle the top of the casserole dish with bread crumbs and place in the oven long enough for the bread crumbs to get crispy and the M&C to bake through. Serve (we always had hot dogs with our M&C). Enjoy!


Anna van Schurman said...

In Philly, Jones has an awesome mac and cheese, which is nothing at all like my mothers, which was possibly even more awesome.

Are you sure your mother didn't make a roux for the cheese sauce? And also, I'm thinking for a pound of macaroni, it would be a pound of cheese (two half pound blocks).

Because I grew up with Vermont cheddar (white) I'd never had orange--homemade (non-box)--mac and cheese until I went to college where the cheddar was--gasp-- colored.

Unknown said...

My recipe starts with a roux and has 2 C. cheese for 6 oz. of mac. Yum.

I'm sure it's nothing like your mother's, but did you have the M&C at the cafe in Chautauqua? It was just the ticket for the early spring weather, and only $3 or something along those lines.

stinkypaw said...

Now that reads like comfort food alright! ;-)

Anonymous said...

My mother made her M&C with Wispride port wine cheese spread, (about 1/2 the larger container)which while unfortunately yellow (I'm allergic to food dyes, natural and unnatural--esp. yellow/orange) is also extremely yummy, along with some regular cheddar (about 6 oz.) melted into a nice white sauce (maybe 2 cups for the 1 lb of macaroni.) This was and still is a staple for meals during Lent.

Did I mention that spreadable port wine cheddar is also great on Philly soft pretzels?

Philly Girl

Amy said...

Yeah, well, my mom makes hers with Cheez Whiz. We never had the Kraft blue box, though.

Have you seen that they're making Kraft Macaroni & Cheese–flavored crackers? The commercial is a little .... odd.

Brave Astronaut said...

Anna - If you mean a white sauce when you say roux, then yes. We tended to have a white mac and cheese, too. We only got the orange when we ate from the box.

C - I did not but it sounds good. Mac and Cheese is not one of those things that I think to order when I go out though, perhaps I should start thinking about it.

Paw - you betcha it is.

Philly - food dyes, really? That must really put a crimp in things. I'm not even going to address the pretzel thing, for by your own moniker, a Philly Girl should only, ever, put mustard on a Philly pretzel.

Amy - Ah, yes, Whiz. Not a fan, but I understand it has its place.