05 May 2010

Homestyle Mac & Cheese

If you know anything about me, you know I'm big on certain domestic arts but not all. For instance, I like to sweep the floor but don't like to vacuum. I like to do the dishes but don't like to cook. But Adam has been working a lot and I thought I'd play happy housewife and give him a hot dinner and a cold beer last night.

So I flipped open The River Cottage Family Cookbook. I've only made a few recipes from it, but I've read through a lot of it. It's meant as a cookbook for the whole family and describes not only recipes but why certain actions or ingredients are called for, which is great for someone like me who should probably be reading Cooking for Dummies.

At any rate, this was the best homemade mac and cheese I've ever had. It's creamy and peppery and cheesy. And when I asked Adam if he'd like to have it again, he said yes. A-mazing.

Macaroni and Cheese
Adapted from The River Cottage Family Cookbook

2 c. elbow pasta
3 c. milk
3 tbs. unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the dish
3 tbs. all-purpose flour
6 oz. cheddar cheese
2 oz. Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Fill pot with water and put on high heat to boil. Pour milk into a medium saucepan and place it over medium heat until milk is hot but not quite boiling. Pour hot milk into a pitcher (or another saucepan) and keep it standing by. Put butter in the medium saucepan and melt it over low heat. As soon as it's melted, add flour. Turn up the heat a little. Keep stirring for a minute or two while it sizzles gently. Pour and stir in a quarter of the hot milk. Gradually add the rest of the milk and whisk gently until it's all mixed in.

Bring sauce to a boil, then turn heat down low. Let it gently simmer for about five minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, shred the cheddar and grate the Parmesan (or use the pre-grated stuff in the fridge, like I did). Season the sauce well with cayenne pepper, black pepper and salt to taste (use your judgment). Add shredded cheddar and stir well.

When the water starts to boil, add 2 tbs. of salt and the macaroni and cook the pasta for 2 minutes less than the package says. Drain. Add the pasta to the cheese sauce and stir together. Pour cheesy macaroni into an ovenproof dish and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the cheese on top has turned golden brown and the sauce is bubbly.

If it's your cup of tea, fry up some bacon to sprinkle on top. (We skipped this, but only because we didn't have any bacon.)

Bon apetite! (Serves 4)

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