Saturday, March 22, 2008

Macaroni and Cheese--the Original Comfort food!

Recently my daughter's choral ensemble was hosting a lunch for the singers, and someone had requested a macaroni bar--a sort of buffet featuring different types of macaroni dishes. My contribution was homemade macaroni and cheese, a favorite around here that is much creamier and tastier than that blue box stuff. Experiment with the combinations of cheeses for your own unique dish!


Homemade Macaroni and Cheese
Serves a large family or a small family with guests

4 cups elbow macaroni
8 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
2 cups grated Vermont sharp cheddar (white cheese)
8 ounces cubed flavorful melting cheese, cut into small cubes
(optional) 1 cup crumbled Ritz crackers and 2 tablespoons butter

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Butter a 13x9x2 baking dish (I use my stone cookware and then I don't butter it)
Cook the macaroni according to the al dente package directions. Drain and spread into your baking dish.
Melt the butter slowly, then whisk in the flour, mixing completely. Add milk.
Stir until it's smooth and thick.
Add the grated cheddar; stir until melted.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add the sauce to the macaroni in the baking dish, stirring until the sauce is evenly distributed over the macaroni.
Evenly distribute the chunks of cheese throughout the macaroni. It won't be melted just yet, but will melt as you bake the dish.
At this point, you can cover the top of the macaroni with the crushed crackers and dot with 2 tablespoons of butter, if you like. I don't care for it, so I leave it off, but you could do it half and half the first time to see which one you like best.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until it's lightly browned and very bubbly.
Serve with hunks of buttered bread and a fresh salad. Yum!

Adapted from The Tasha Tudor Cookbook.

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