Monday, April 18, 2016

ULTIMATE MACARONI AND CHEESE

When I think of our favorite casseroles they all have one thing in common.

They are all yellow and gooey.

Another thing they have in common is that they don't have anything green in them. I am famous (in my family only, of course) for trying to sneak in some broccoli florets or some chopped green onions, or some chopped green beans or... the one that is the least scorned...diced green chile.

The yellow gooey casseroles already on this blog are Agnes' Grits Au Gratin, Sammi's Spoonbread and Cheezy Scalloped Potatoes.

The most difficult part of the process is making the white sauce. If you practice, you will be amazed how good it is. You will have the perfect start to casseroles and gravy.

Process:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

You will need 2 cups (16 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese. Please shred it yourself or buy the shredded cheese that doesn't have flour added. (That's what they do to prepackaged shredded cheese to keep it from sticking together.)

2  quart (8" x 11") glass casserole dish, greased with butter

1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni, cooked until just before it is tender. Check the time suggested on the package and use the least time recommended. It will cook more in the casserole and won't be too pasty or stick together. Drain. Set aside.

While the macaroni is cooking, make the white sauce with the next five ingredients:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash ground black pepper
2 cups whole milk or canned milk

Here's how:
Melt the butter over medium heat until just melted in a large heavy pan.
Turn the heat down!
Slowly add in the flour and use a wire whisk to make sure it's mixed in with the butter. This is a very important step. If the mixture gets too brown, it will be ruined. If It doesn't cook together long enough it will be grainy tasting. It should be thick and crumbly but not brown.
Add the milk a little at a time, while still whisking, until all the milk is incorporated into the flour and butter mixture and is thickening.
Turn the heat under the pot up a little to heat the sauce.
Now add the 2 cups (16 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese to the sauce.
Turn the heat off and cover the pan until all the cheese is melted.
Now add the drained macaroni and toss (not stir) together until it is all mixed.
Turn carefully into the buttered casserole.
Sprinkle the top lightly with breadcrumbs or, my favorite, crushed corn flakes.
Place 4 tablespoons cold butter cut into pieces over the top of the crumbs.
Sprinkle paprika over the top of the crumbs and butter.
Bake for about 45 minutes until starting to bubble and it is golden brown and crispy on top.

Great dish to serve with pork chops and a salad or coleslaw.
Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator for a few days and can be reheated easily.

Hope you like it!