Tuesday, September 25, 2012

recipe: macaroni and cheese

I've missed you, dear oven!

The knob on my oven has been set firmly in the off position since the spring. But now that the weather has cooled down, I've been taking full advantage of this great appliance. Bread. Pizza. Enchiladas. And when Camille and Matt came over for dinner Saturday evening, I decided to bake a macaroni and cheese casserole. 

The Internet contains approximately 1 million recipes for macaroni and cheese that all have various combinations of noodles, cheddar cheese, milk, bread crumbs, and assorted other ingredients. I know this because I googled the phrase "macaroni and cheese recipe" and quickly was overwhelmed with all of the choices. I ended up abandoning the Internet entirely and started sorting through my cookbooks, where I figured the experts on American cuisine couldn't possibly lead me astray. I decided to try the recipe in James Beard's American Cookery, which is a new addition to my cookbook collection. I've been wanting to try something out of this book, and macaroni and cheese certainly fits squarely in the category of "American cookery." I bought the book earlier this month for 50 cents at the Northeast Library book sale. And let me tell you, that that was 50 cents well spent.

I went for a Southern-ish theme for dinner and served the macaroni and cheese with almond green beans and cornbread. With bourbon in my glass. For dessert: apple pie bars. (I'll post the cornbread and apple pie bar recipes soon!)

Here's my take on the American Cookery recipe. I made several changes to the original recipe, including the amount of cheese. As I was assembling the casserole, it quickly became clear that 1 to 1 1/2 cups of cheese just wasn't going to cut it.

Macaroni and Cheese
Adapted from James Beard's American Cookery

  • 2 cups macaroni
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 splashes of Tabasco
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • generous amount of breadcrumbs

Butter a 2-quart baking dish.

Boil macaroni for the minimum cooking time. My box called for 9-11 minutes, and I boiled for 9 minutes. Drain.

For the white sauce, melt butter in a saucepan. Add flour and cook for a few minutes. Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, heat milk to the boiling point. Add milk to the butter-flour mixture. Add salt and Tabasco. Sauce will start to thicken. Cook on medium-low, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes.

In the prepared baking dish, add half of the macaroni, spread half of the white sauce, and add half of the cheese. Then add the rest of the macaroni, the rest of the white sauce, and then the rest of the cheese. Top with a generous amount of breadcrumbs. You can make your own breadcrumbs, but I used store-bought Italian-seasoned crumbs.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Then put under broiler on high for 2 minutes.

The good news for you is that you no longer need to scour the Internet, wondering which macaroni and cheese recipe to choose. You've found it.

It. Was. Delicious.


After dinner, the four of us competed in a game of Goggle Eyes. Which is as fun as it sounds. Camille and Matt originally read about the game in The Washington Post's Kids Post. But it's very easily converted into an adult game. Just add the aforementioned bourbon.

It's like Pictionary in that you draw a picture from a prompt on a card and try to get your partner to guess what you're drawing. Only you're wearing extremely funny glasses with lenses that distort your vision. Here's Tony, handsome as always, even with those glasses:

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