Friday, October 21, 2011

Mac and Cheese

We are kind of mac and cheese snobs at our house. Well....maybe the truth is I'M a mac and cheese snob. I just can't bring myself to get on board with the blue box of yellow death that is the staple of newlyweds and students everywhere. This tendency I blame squarely on my mother. I didn't ever have box mac and cheese until I was in high school...or maybe I was even married...at any rate I don't like it and avoid it at all costs.

I've made many variations of mac and cheese over the years and haven't ever really found the perfect recipe. They are all good and most have been made more than once but I am still always looking for the perfect combination. This could be the one. It was good creamy, straight out of the pot and also after being baked. That is huge in my book. It was even pretty good reheated when most mac and cheeses are at their leftover worst.

This is a Pioneer Woman recipe so I wasn't consumed with tweaking it to death. I haven't made anything from her book or blog that wasn't good. This recipe falls into that category as well. Yum. Try it, you may not eat yellow death voluntarily again either!

Mac and Cheese
The Pioneer Woman-Food Network 

Ingredients
  • 4 cups dried macaroni
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 heaping teaspoons dry mustard (more if desired)
  • 1 pound sharp Cheddar, grated (not pre-grated cheese), plus more for baking
  • Salt
  • Seasoned salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Optional spices: cayenne pepper, paprika, thyme

Directions 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cook the macaroni until still slightly firm. Drain and set aside.

In a small bowl, beat the egg. In a large pot, melt the butter and sprinkle in the flour. Whisk together over medium-low heat. Cook for a couple of minutes, whisking constantly. Don't let it burn. Pour in the milk, add the mustard and whisk until smooth. Cook until very thick, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low.

Take 1/4 cup of the sauce and slowly pour it into the beaten egg, whisking constantly to avoid cooking the eggs. Whisk together until smooth. Pour the egg into the sauce, whisking constantly. Stir until smooth. Add in the cheese and stir to melt. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt and the pepper. Add any additional spices if desired. Taste the sauce and add more salt and seasoned salt as needed! DO NOT UNDERSALT.

Pour in the drained, cooked macaroni and stir to combine. Serve immediately (while it's still very creamy) or pour into a buttered baking dish, top with extra cheese and bake until bubbly and golden on top, 20 to 25 minutes.

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