Saturday, November 6, 2010
Recipe: Cheese-a-licious Mac-n-Cheese
So yeah, it's no secret that Southern folks like Mac-n-Cheese. Its at every pot-luck, every holiday dinner and Sunday Supper. I've seen it made a million different ways, and to let you in on a little secret, it took me a long time to actually get a recipe I liked. I like the taste of Mac-n-Cheese made with Sharp Cheddar, not Velveeta (which while tasty is all chemicals and I try to avoid that) I always found it to be a little dry, a little greasy and not nearly creamy enough. It took me until I was living in Israel before I came up with a good enough recipe to really genuinely LIKE Mac-n-Cheese. This recipe is a bit more work than the traditional boil noodles, dump on cheese recipe but the extra work is definitely worth it in the long run. Try it, You'll thank me.
Butter- 1/2 stick
Flour- 3 TBSP or more if required to soak up butter into paste
Cream or Milk-1 1/2- 2 cups
Cream Cheese- 1/2 -3/4 cup
Shredded Cheddar Cheese- 2 cups plus enough to cover the top (depends on how thick you like the top coating, appx 1/2-1 cup)
Onion Soup Mix- 2 TBSP
Salt and Pepper- to taste
Macaroni Noodles- 1 box
1 Medium Saucepan
Pot to boil Noodles in
Cooking Spatula (not the burger flipping kind, the bowl scraping kind)
Large Baking Dish
First Preheat oven to 375*
Prepare noodles as directed for Al Dente (sorry my computer doesn't have the Italian Spellings on here), rinse with cool water to stop the cooking process and set aside. In a Medium Saucepan melt Butter over Medium heat, just until it is liquid but do not boil. Using the spatula, mix in the flour a little bit at a time until a paste is formed. Be sure that all of the butter has been soaked up into the flour. It should sort of resemble Mashed Potatoes. Turn the heat down to Low. Add the cream/milk a little bit at a time and mix thoroughly with the spatula to be sure there are no lumps until all of the cream/milk has been added. Next mix in the Onion Soup Mix (you can add more if you prefer a stronger taste). Next add in the Cream Cheese and slowly bring sauce to a boil stirring constantly. Sauce should begin to thicken as it heats up and cream cheese should melt into the sauce. Be sure to use your spatula to mash away any lumps. Once the Cream Cheese has melted into the sauce, Add the Cheddar Cheese. Mix until the Cheese is melted evenly throughout the sauce. Add more milk if the sauce becomes too thick. It should be the consistency of a Mexican Queso dip, maybe slightly runnier. Taste and adjust Salt/Pepper/Onion soup to your taste. Pour over the Macaroni in the pot that you cooked it in and stir to mix completely. Be sure that all Macaroni is coated, it should be a bit saucy as it will thicken up in the oven. Next pour the Mac-n-Cheese Mixture into the baking dish and top with Shredded Cheese. Place into a hot oven JUST until Cheese on top is melted. Serve Hot.
For Mexi Mac-n-Cheese, use 1 cup Pepper Jack and 1 cup Cheddar in the sauce, add 1 cup corn, 1/2 cup Roasted Red Peppers, 1/2 cup sauteed onion, a dash Red pepper flakes, and 1 cup fresh tomatoes to the Macaroni mixture and stir well. Top with Pepper Jack Cheese.
For Pizza Mac-N-Cheese, use 1 cup Cheddar and 1 cup Parmesan, 1 tsp dried oregano and 1 tsp Garlic Powder in the sauce, and stir in a handful of Chopped Fresh Basil, 1/2 cup sliced olives (or other family favorite topping such as mushrooms), 1 cup fresh tomatoes, 1/2 cup roasted red pepper, into the Mac-n-Cheese Mixture. Top with Shredded Parmesan Cheese. Eat it as a side or make a meal out of it... YUM!!!