Macaroni and Cheese: A New Experience Each Time

March 10, 2011

Hey! It’s Oreo posting for one last time to tell you about the absolute BEST Macaroni and Cheese you will ever consume.

My love for Mac and Cheese started as any child’s would, my mom made it for me. It was a dinner my mom made for me any time I refused to eat the “adult” food she made for herself and my dad. Well, as I grew up Macaroni and Cheese became a standard, not every day but I would request it every couple weeks or so.

One day, when I was about eleven my eight-year-old sister and I decided that we were going to experiment and make our own food for dinner. Our dad was still at work and mom was busy in the other room so we got out about six different types of noodles (oodles of noodles!) and started to boil a giant stock pot of water. Before the water was even warm, we dumped in all the pasta noodles: Spaghetti, Rigatoni, Farfalle, Elbow Macaroni, Risotto, and some sort of big tube shaped pasta. Not knowing any better, we dumped it all in the pot before the water was even gone. About half an hour later, we drained it and set it aside. We still didn’t have a plan and were just trying to make it up as we went. I got out another big pot and filled it half way up with milk. We boiled it, again not knowing how to properly cook, and added cups upon cups of shredded cheese to try to make it thick and melty. That was before I knew any fancy stuff like how to make a roux. We were about to add cream cheese when my mom burst through the double doors into the kitchen and exclaimed one word in such a tone we knew we were in trouble, “GIRLS!” We dropped what we were doing and looked up. “We were trying to make dinner,” we explained weakly. Luckily, chef mom saved the day. She took our melty cheese concoction and added some spices. Together, we lifted the heavy mess of noodles and poured it in. It took about four baking dishes, and we had Macaroni coming out of our ears for weeks. But hey, it turned out pretty good for two little girls with not much experience.

My most recent, and best experience with Macaroni and Cheese is this recipe I made for baked mac and cheese for my final project with sharp white cheddar and pecorino Romano cheese. I started making it one night, until I realized I didn’t have half the ingredients. By the time I got back from the grocery store it was too late to start cooking, we just had to eat leftovers and I made it as a lunch dish the next day.

For my Baked Macaroni and Cheese, I started off getting everything out for my Mise en Place and then prepping my ingredients.

Preheating the over to 375, the oven light is on to remind me!

Mise en place, I'm ready to start cooking!

Preping the number 1 ingredient, grating cheese.

Heating the milk for the Cheese Mixture

After the butter bubbles, adding in the flour for the roux.

Cooking the butter and flour to prep the roux.

Whisking the roux.

Adding in the seasonings and cheese to make the cheese mixture.

Boiling the water for noodles.

Adding the elbow macaroni noodles into the boiling water.

Transfering the macaroni into a colander.

Pouring the pasta mixture into the baking dish.

 

After adding the bread on top, it is all ready to go!

 

Putting my creation in the oven.

 

Baking at 375 degrees for 30 minutes...or a little more!

All done, baked and cooling to be ready to eat for lunch!

As you can probably tell, this time making mac and cheese was probably my most successful. I got to use all my new kitchen skills and eat what I made as well! For anyone who wants to try the recipe themselves, I have it listed below. I wish you happy cooking (and eating!) and this is Oreo, signing out.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 12 (You can easily divide this recipe in half; use a 1 1/2-quart casserole dish if you do.)

Ingredients:

6 slices good-quality white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for dish
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyere (can substitute Swiss) or 1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) grated pecorino Romano
1 pound elbow macaroni

Directions:

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place bread pieces in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour butter into the bowl with bread, and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.

2. Slowly pour hot milk into flour-butter mixture while whisking. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.

3. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyere or 1 cup pecorino Romano. Set cheese sauce aside.

4. Fill a large saucepan with water. Bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 fewer minutes than manufacturer’s directions, until outside of pasta is cooked and inside is underdone. (Different brands of macaroni cook at different rates; be sure to read the instructions.) Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.

5. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar and 1/2 cup Gruyere or 1/4 cup pecorino Romano; scatter breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes; serve.

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