Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Baked Mac and Cheese...Take 1

My boyfriend doesn't like macaroni and cheese, but thinks part of it is due to the texture, so I'm on a mission to find a recipe he likes. I'm a huge mac and cheese fan, so I really want to be able to make it! I'm trying curries for him, so it's only fair. ;-)

I borrowed the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook from the library and found a recipe for baked macaroni and cheese and thought I'd give it a go.

Yesterday I had the day off for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, so I decided to do as much prep as I could. (One thing I like about this cookbook is that it has a section for many recipes that tell you how to make it ahead of time, the mac and cheese was one such recipe.) Well, I'm glad I did. My boyfriend ended up slicing his finger on the new chef's knife while cleaning it at 11:30 last night and we ended up going to the ER just to be sure it didn't need stitches. Luckily they didn't even end up registering him and just gave him some strips to keep the wound closed, but we still didn't get to bed until after 1:30. Needless to say, I'm exhausted today! I was so relieved to just mix the breadcrumbs and butter and put on the mac and cheese. I also made some small salads for sides and dinner was done.

The verdict?

This recipe didn't convert my boyfriend as a macaroni and cheese lover. He thought it was better than Velveeta, but still felt like it didn't have enough substance. He said he was tempted to put it between two slices of toast and put some ketchup in it...but he didn't end up doing that. I think he just feels like he should have to chew it...I only served him a little bit in case he didn't like it. He did end up eating a little more, but I think I'll be able to eat loads of leftovers!

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

The recipe calls for chicken broth, which was a surprising addition for me, but America's Test Kitchen says they found it to be the best way to keep the macaroni and cheese creamy without becoming too sweet or dry.

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
2 cups breadcrumbs
1 pound elbow macaroni
1 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dry mustard, dissolved in 1 teaspoon water
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3½ cups whole milk (do not used reduced fat milk)
1¾ cups low sodium chicken broth (can use vegetable broth for vegetarian)
1 pound Colby cheese, shredded (about 4 cups)
8 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups)

  1. Make sure the oven rack is in the middle and preheat the oven to 400°F. Melt 2 tablespoons butter and mix with the breadcrumbs.
  2. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and add the macaroni. Cook until almost tender, but still firm to the bite. Drain the macaroni , leave in the colander, and set aside.
  3. Dry the pot, add the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter and melt on medium heat. Stir in the garlic, mustard mixture, and cayenne pepper. Cook about 30 seconds, until fragrant.
  4. Stir in the flour and cook until golden brown, about 1 minute. Stir in the milk and broth slowly and simmer, whisking often, until the mixture is slightly thickened. This should take about 6 minutes.
  5. Take the pot off the heat and slowly whisk in the cheeses until completely melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the macaroni, until well mixed. Be sure to break up any clumps.
  6. Pour into a 9" x 13" baking dish. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the macaroni and cheese. Bake until golden brown and bubbling around the edges. this should take about 25-30 minutes. Cool about 10 minutes before serving.
To make ahead:
Follow steps 2-5. Cover dish and put in fridge for up to three days or freezer for up to three months. If frozen, defrost for 24 hours before setting out at room temperature for an hour. If refrigerated, set the dish out at room temperature for an hour before cooking. Mix the breadcrumbs and sprinkle over dish just before baking.


Made by Lena