Macaroni and Cheese

Update: In the original recipe it says that this does not warm up well.  I tried it today as leftovers and thought it was just fine.

I have always had a soft spot for Macaroni and Cheese.  I use to eat it all the time as a kid.  I have tried many different varieties, but made very few.  This was an attempt to change that.

The bechamel was a little tricky.  My milk was not immediately absorbed and my sauce started out pretty thin and then thickened as it cooked.  Also, it took a really long time to boil.  The original recipe calls for ham, but I did not use it because I think Macaroni and Cheese is perfect without it.

I really liked this.  It took a while to make, but all in all I think it was worth the effort.

Macaroni and Cheese

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fine dry bread crumbs
  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 cups milk, warmed
  • salt and black pepper
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • 16 OZ short pasta, such as penne
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 10 by 6-inch shallow ovenproof dish and scatter the bread crumbs over it.

2. To make the bechamel, melt 3 1/2 tbsp of the butter in a small sauce pan over low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly, then begin adding the warm milk. It will be immediately absorbed, so work quickly, whisking with one hand while adding ladlefuls of milk with the other. When the sauce seems to be smooth and not too stiff, add salt, pepper and a grating of nutmeg, and continue cooking, even after it comes to a boil, for 5 minutes or so, mixing all the time. It should be a very thick and smooth sauce.

3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling salted water for a little less time than it says on the package so that it is still a bit firm. Drain well and then tip into a bowl. Add the rest of the butter and half of the bechamel, and mix until the butter melts. Scrape half the pasta into the oven proof dish and level it out. Scatter a couple of tbsps of the Parmesan. Top with the rest of the pasta, then spread the remaining bechamel over this. Scatter the rest of the Parmesan over the top. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until the top is getting a little bit crusty, then put it under a hot broiler until it is golden and crisp in places. Serve hot, scooped out in rough squares.

This recipe was adapted from Apples For Jam by Tessa Kiros

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