Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Classic Mac and Cheese
In case you are wondering what to serve for a late lunch on a November weekend, this is it. You may be thinking that it is only Wednesday, but if you are like me it is the thought of the weekend that keeps my blood thumping through the week. I have a special reason to look forward to the weekend;this Friday night, The Quiet Man and I have tickets to the Five Browns in concert. Have you heard of them? Five Julliard trained siblings pound out piano pieces together. I've been following their story in print for the last couple of years, so I was delighted to find that they'd be coming to this gorgeous outdoor theatre. Practically in my own backyard! But I must confess that I wish the charges were coming too. What could be more inspiring for their own piano practice? If only see where all those tedious scales could be leading to. Fame! Fortune! Sibling Unity! (I'd take two out of three. Or even one. Or one half. ) I may just bite the bullet and buy two extra tickets, in the name of educational aspirations.
But I'm here to tell you about macaroni and cheese, not macaroni and music. I love this version, adapted from Joy of Cooking. As far as mac and cheese goes, it's a medium in terms of decadence. It's no saint, with it's butter and cheddar cheese, but I've seen far more evil versions. (I saw one version that called for 6 tablespoons of butter per serving-criminy!) And besides, I was going to recommend that you serve it with that healthful apple salad that I posted yesterday. Just leave the cheddar off the salad, so it doesn't steal the cheesy spotlight. Have a Yankee Doodle Dandy of a week, and call it macaroni for the weeekend.
Money Saving Tips: This one's good and cheap, so make it when you find a good deal on good quality cheddar. My very favorite is Tillamook. The next time you cook pasta, don't throw out the water. Cook up an extra 1/2 lb. of elbow macaroni and make mac and cheese a couple of days later.
Classic Macaroni and Cheese
Estimated Cost: $6.00 for six servings
4 tablespoons butter
1 onion, diced
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk (I used low fat)
2 and 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided use
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
generous pinch of cayenne
8 ounces elbow macaroni, cooked until just tender, drained
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs (you can put two pieces of toast in blender)
1 tablespoon melted butter
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. (Use a large saucepan so that you have room to add the pasta in later.) Add onions and saute for 5 minutes, or until softened. Stir in flour and whisk until blended and smooth. Off the heat, slowly whisk in milk. Return to heat and bring to a simmer, whisking constantly. Simmer for 1 minute, or until sauce is thickened. Off the heat, stir in cayenne, mustard and 2 cups cheese. Stir in pasta and mix until well coated. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Butter a 2 quart casserole dish. Put half of the pasta in the dish. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese. Add remaining pasta and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. In a small bowl, combine crumbs and butter. Sprinkle over the top of the pasta. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or just until the crumbs are browned and the dish is bubbly.
Next Up: Japanese Lemon Chicken