This really has to be one of my husbands favorite dishes. He LOVES mac and cheese when we get it at restaurants or fast food.
Honestly? I don’t think I had ever eaten mac and cheese growing up.
Yes, I was a weird one.
But when you grew up with a dad who wont eat cheese, you generally don’t have a dish that is mainly cheese flavored. So I went without. Now, after moving out and being with my husband, I realize that I like cheese.
So I decided to make my own version of mac and cheese. Lovely, wonderful, warm and gooey mac and cheese.
The recipe I went off of was one from Alton Brown, and it was a very basic recipe. Starting with a traditional white sauce, add onion, mustard, bay leaf, paprika, egg, and cheese. Add pasta, top with bread crumbs and bake. I tried to make the recipe exactly as stated the first time, and it went over wonderfully. The only alteration I had to do was use instant oats that I crumbled up instead of bread crumbs since I didn’t have any. Husband and his friend went back for seconds, and that’s a great compliment.
So for the second time I made it, I did a few alterations. I used three types of cheese (equal amounts) and use half instant oats and bread crumbs for the topping, to give it more texture. I also used less butter to try and lighten it up.
For the cheese, I used a mixture of Monterey Jack, Sharp Cheddar, and Dubliner. Dubliner is one that a friend of mine turned me onto, it is like an aged cheddar, mixed with Parmesan and a little Swiss in flavor. Fantastic cheese! I think just about any cheese will be good with this, so try making your own blend and see what happens.
This last time I made this, I used double the amount of pasta needed by accident. When I get going cooking and I’ve done it at least a few times before, the recipe is more of a reminder of what goes in, and the amounts get a little fuzzy. But it still tasted great! The recipe calls for a half pound of pasta, I used a whole pound and it was great so somewhere between those two amounts would be perfect. Remember to use a good pasta with ridges on it, either the ripple kind or spirals work great.
My body doesn’t like a high cheese/high fat content food, so I can’t really indulge the way my husband does with this dish. But that’s just fine. I get just as much enjoyment out of making it as I do eating it.
Mac and Cheese
Serves at least 6
- 1/2 – 1 pound small pasta
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups milk
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- 1/2 cup onion, finely diced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 large egg
- 12 oz. cheese, shredded (sharp cheddar or a mix of cheeses)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Fresh black pepper
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup instant oats
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al-dente.
- While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot melt the butter. Whisk in the flour, 1/2 cup milk, and mustard. Keep whisking for about five minutes, removing any lumps, adding extra milk as needed to keep the mixture moving. Stir in the remaining milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes stirring constantly over medium heat. Remove the bay leaf.
- Temper in the egg. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the pasta into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.
- Take the oats and break up the pieces using your fingers, until it resembles coarse bread crumbs. Mix oats with the bread crumbs.
- Melt the remaining butter in a saute pan and toss the crumbled oats and bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the crumbled oat mixture. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.