Sunday, January 16, 2011
Classic Macaroni and Cheese
As I mentioned before, we had a couple friends staying with us over the holidays and one of them was a vegetarian. Naturally, my family of meat eaters (or rather chicken and fish eaters) began to rack our brains trying to come up with meatless dinners. It was a week of interesting eating, that's for sure. But, through it all, there was one recipe that stood out among the rest - this Classic Macaroni and Cheese. After all, let's face it, creamy, cheesy pasta is something that will please vegetarians and meat eaters alike, no question about it.
Everyone just loved it. Up until now, macaroni and cheese was always something that came out of a box, so mac and cheese made from scratch with real honest-to-goodness cheese was definitely a step up. Constant comments were heard about how good it was and everyone dove for the leftovers the next day. With rave reviews like that, I know I'll be keeping this one in my recipe box.
Classic Macaroni and Cheese (adapted from Sweet Pea's Kitchen)
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Panko (in my haste, I didn't measure how much I put in)
Pasta and cheese:
1 lb. elbow macaroni
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
6 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
5 c. milk
2 c. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
2 c. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tsp. table salt
ground black pepper (I added this, but you can leave it out if you want)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until pasta is tender. Drain and set aside.
Heat 6 Tbsp. butter over medium-high heat until foaming. Add flour and whisk well to combine. Continue whisking until mixture becomes fragrant and deepens in color, about 1 min. Gradually whisk in the milk; bring mixture to a boil, whisking constantly (mixture must reach full boil to thicken). Reduce heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened to consistency of heavy cream, about 5 min. Take off of heat and whisk in cheeses and 1 tsp. salt until melted. Add pasta and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is steaming and heated through, about 6 min.
Melt the 3 Tbsp. butter in a pot. Take off of the heat and add the panko, stirring until the panko is coated with the butter. As for the amount of panko, use enough so that the mixture is not too dry and not too greasy.
Transfer mixture to a large casserole dish or 9x13 baking dish and sprinkle evenly with the panko mixture. Broil until crumbs are deep golden brown, 3-5 min., rotating pan if necessary for even browning. Cool about 5 min., then serve.
Note: We've made this more than once. The other time we made this, we used Pepper Jack cheese instead of the Monterey Jack and added in a diced jalapeno pepper (ribs, seeds, and all). It was incredible and deliciously spicy. I think we'll make it this way from now on.
This recipe is linked to:
My Sweet and Savory's Meatless Monday
Just Another Meatless Monday
Midnight Maniac's Meatless Monday