29 September 2008

'God, that was beautiful. What'd I do?'

I cannot be the only person who has Nuke LaLoosh moments in the kitchen; if I am wrong about that, please don't disillusion me. Read what follows not so much as a brag about my million-dollar arm as the workings of my five-cent head as it figures out just what is it was I did do, which was make the first completely successful baked macaroni and cheese I have ever made. And by completely successful I mean I actually can't think of anything I'd do differently next time.

So, Charlie, here comes the deuce. And when you speak of me, speak well.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 9x13 baking pan. Put on a pot of water to boil the noodles. While you're waiting for it to boil, make the

Cheese Sauce:

2 tbs butter
2 tbs flour
2 cups milk (whole)
2 eggs
1 cup grated smoked cheddar
1 cup grated mozzerella
1/2 cup grated parmesan

First, make a roux with the butter and flour, and then slowly add the milk, stirring constantly, until it's all incorporated and you have a nice thick sauce going on.

Next, break the eggs into a small bowl and beat them with a fork. Stir a half ladleful of the white sauce into the eggs to temper them, then add them to the sauce. Mix well.

Add in the cheeses, a handful at a time, and stir until they are completely melted into the sauce.

Notes on cheesy goodness:

The important thing about any flour-based sauce is that you take the trouble to cook it. Otherwise the flour just sits there and the sauce tastes like library paste. With cheese.

The decision to add eggs was one of those epiphanies which I occasionally have. The eggs enrich and thicken the finished product without throwing off the balance of milk, flour, and cheese.

The smoked cheddar makes all the difference in the world.


1/4 tsp ground chile pepper (I used ancho)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbs prepared mustard (wholegrain; I used Grey Poupon)
1 tbs dried tarragon, crumbled
1 tsp fresh ground white pepper
pinch salt

Add these into the sauce and stir well. Do not worry about the tarragon making unsightly green spots in your cheese; if you crumble it well it will disappear into the sauce when it's baked.


I used a bag of flat egg noodles instead of elbow macaroni because that's what I happened to have. They worked great. I may make them my go-to noodle for all future macaroni and cheese makings.

If you cook noodles and leave them sitting around, you get mushy sticky noodles, so I don't cook the noodles until the sauce is pretty much ready to go. The noodles should be al dente, about 8-10 minutes for the egg noodles.

Once the noodles are cooked and drained, add them to the pot with the sauce and mix to combine. Make sure the noodles are all thoroughly coated with the sauce, then dump them into the buttered 9 x 13" baking dish and set on the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 30 minutes.


2 tbs butter, melted
3/4 c fresh breadcrumbs
3/4 c smoked cheddar, grated
pinch each salt, white pepper, and red pepper

Combine these in a small bowl and mix to combine. When the cheesy noodles have baked for 30 minutes, sprinkle this evenly over the top and slide the pan back in the oven for another 15 minutes, until the cheese has melted and the breadcrumbs are toasted.

I kid you not, I pulled the finished product out of the oven and thought 'God, that's beautiful.' Looked beautiful. Smelled beautiful. Then I had to get my camera to record the beauty for posterity.

Macaroni and cheese

You should get 8 servings from this, assuming you don't go face first into the pan.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...