The Mac-n-Cheese Off

January 5, 2007

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I haven’t even had the chance to go back and finish all the “draft” and “outlined” posts from December yet, but I simply *had* to be a part of the “Only Annual Mac-n-Cheese Off” hosted by the fabulous Kevin over at Seriously Good.

And it was ever-so-coincidental that today was the day we were supposed to post our recipe and cheesy picture (yep, that’s mine above there), when I was already planning to make a large pan of Macaroni and Cheese for my Post-Holiday Holiday Party (more on that later!), which was held last night. It’s like it was Mac-n-Cheese fate or something……*Smile*

Like most people, I have many versions and variations on this American Comfort-Food Classic…but here’s my tried-and-true Cheesy Classic Macaroni and Cheese Recipe. The one that is the launching point from which all others spring.

Classic Macaroni and Cheese

4 tablespoons Butter
4 1/2 tablespoons Flour
1 teaspoon Paprika
1/4 teaspoon Mustard Powder
1/4 teaspoon White Pepper
4 cups Milk
1 teaspoon Salt
1 pound Pasta (I tend to use elbows or spirals–better for sauce-coating, I feel)
2 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
6 dashes Hot Sauce
16 ounces Extra-Sharp Cheddar Cheese, coarsely shredded, divided
1/2 cup Romano Cheese, finely grated/shredded, divided
2 cups coarse Fresh Bread Crumbs (For as my Mama says, this is what makes the dish!)

Preheat oven to 375°F. and butter a glass 13×9 baking dish.

In a large pot bring salted water to a boil for cooking the pasta.

For the Topping: In a medium bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups Cheddar Cheese, 1/4 cup Romano Cheese and the 2 cups Fresh Bread Crumbs. Set Aside.

Make the Bechamel: In a heavy saucepan melt butter over medium heat and stir in flour, paprika, dry mustard and white pepper. Cook roux, whisking 3 minutes, then whisk in milk and salt. Bring sauce to a boil, whisking, then simmer, whisking occasionally, 3-5 minutes more. At this point, the sauce should have thickened nicely. Remove pan from heat.

Stir pasta into pot of boiling water and boil, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain pasta, then pour back into the same pot, adding the Béchamel, Worcestershire, Hot Sauce and the remaining Cheddar and Romano Cheeses. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Pour mixture into the prepared dish and sprinkle the cheese and breadcrumb mixture over top.***

Bake macaroni and cheese about 30 minutes, until golden and bubbling. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

**You can make this a day ahead: just stop at this point, cover well– first with plastic wrap, then with aluminum foil–and chill. To bake, remove plastic wrap, but put foil back on. Bake covered for 25 minutes, then remove foil and bake another 20 minutes or so, until browned and bubbling.

Considering that last night, on a table laden with food, this was the thing that went the quickest, I’d say it was a hit! Hope you like it just as much.

Now to check out everyone else’s recipes and find a new favorite or two to add to the Mac-n-Cheese roster……This should be fun! *Smile*

Filed Under: Mains, Recipe, Savory, Sides, Vegetarian-Friendly

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