Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Baked Macaroni & Cheese

Tonight was an expedition, a cooking quest. Why? I have no idea! This was a simple and straight forward recipe, one that promised amazingly delicious rewards, one that I’ve been excited about since I heard that someone still needed to take on the mac & cheese for Thanksgiving. Maybe it was just the anticipation that caused the chaos.

But somehow I found myself running around the kitchen, annoyed why my sauce wasn’t thickening when apparently some ghost (or myself accidentally) turned off my burner, mixing breadcrumbs in butter for a topping and splattering them across my stove-top, convinced that this amazing recipe, this wonderfully cheesy delectable meal was going to be a total flop.

However, somewhere in the madness, mouth-watering exquisiteness arose. Thanksgiving will be amazing, but wow am I happy I did a trial run!

1 pound elbow macaroni
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1 tbsp powdered mustard (I know, this is me who doesn’t like mustard! I was scared!)
3 cups milk
½ cup yellow onion (finely diced)
½ tsp paprika
1 large egg
8 ounces shredded cheddar

3 tbsp. butter
1 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350.
Boil pasta. While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Once melted, whisk in the flour and mustard, and keep it moving until it is smooth and free of lumps. Stir in milk, onion, and paprika. (Of course, I did this in too small of a pot, so think ahead!) Simmer for about ten minutes.
Temper* the egg. Stir in ¾ of the cheese. After it has melted fold the macaroni into the mix. When thoroughly mixed, pour into a casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.
Melt the remaining butter and toss with bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs.
Bake for 30 minutes.

Lessons learned:
*To temper means to adds ingredients gradually of different temperatures. In this case, adding cold egg to a simmering sauce might cause scrambling, rather than an even blended texture.
When a recipe says prep time 15 minutes, cook time 30 minutes, be wary. Sometimes they lie.

I also ended up adding in cubed ham here. While easy and a good addition, this won't be part of the Thanksgiving recipe, so I didn't include it here.
Happy cooking!

(Click here for printable recipe)

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