Sunday, September 26, 2010

Tried and true Mac-n-Cheese

I let Stephen down the other day when he couldn't find our much beloved mac-n-cheese recipe on Ruining Mom's Recipes, so I decided that was the perfect excuse to whip up a batch this weekend.

This is a recipe Bryan grew up with, and Bryan and I both have had our share of ruining this recipe since we got it from Connie, oh, about a decade ago. But after bringing it to dozens of potlucks and other events, I believe we've since perfected it.

Rule No. 1: Make sure the roux (flour and butter) is thoroughly mixed before you add the milk. Rule No. 2: Bring the bechamel (after the milk is added to the flour and butter mixture) to a boil before you add the cheese, otherwise it won't thicken correctly.

Connie's Mac-n-Cheese
2-1/2 c. milk
2 T. butter
2 T. flour
1 t. salt
2 c. macaroni
3 c. cheddar cheese (or a combo of your favorites)

Preheat oven to 375.

Heat milk in the microwave or on the stovetop; cook the macaroni in a separate pot according to package directions.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium pot, then add salt and flour and whisk until thickened, about 2-4 minutes. Add warm milk and continue to whisk until the milk comes to a boil. Turn heat off and add 2 c. cheddar cheese. When cheese is melted, add the macaroni and pour it into a casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and cook for 35 minutes, until brown and bubbly on top.

Note: Can be made one day in advance without baking.

Variations: One of our favorite combos is to add bacon and peas. Instead of using butter, first cook 4 strips of chopped bacon, then remove the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels, and use the grease instead of butter to make the roux. Mix the peas in when you add the macaroni to the bechamel sauce.

This dish works great with leftover ham or broccoli (or both!). Add about 2 c. chopped just before putting in the oven.

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