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Mac & Cheese

September 27, 2015

Last night we was my first time making homemade mac & cheese. We had a party to go to and I was asked to bring it. As usual, I scoured the internet for “best” recipes and read a lot of the comments. What I ended up with is combining several recipes to come up the following. Since Jeff loved it and two others asked me for the recipe, it’s going to go in my file so I can remember how I made it!

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Ingredients

For the topping:
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
• Several small tomatoes, sliced thinly (about 4)

For the macaroni and sauce:
• 1 pound dried elbow macaroni
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
• 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 4 cups whole milk
• 3/4 cup heavy cream
• 8 ounces grated extra-sharp cheddar
• 4-5 ounces grated Gruyere
• 2-3 ounces grated Romano
• 2 teaspoons kosher salt
• 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
• 1 1/2 tablespoons mustard powder
• 1/4 teaspoon cayenne

Equipment:
• 9- by 13-inch baking dish, buttered

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in the middle of oven. Butter the baking dish. Set a large, covered pot of salted water over high heat to boil.

Brown panko and two tablespoons of butter over medium low heat. Watch the panko as it has a tendency to burn quickly. Set aside.

Add macaroni to boiling salted water and cook for 7-9 minutes according to instructions to al dente (do not overcook) Drain macaroni and set aside. In a small pot add the milk and crème, set on burner on medium low to warm up but do not let boil. In the meantime, make the roux. In a large pot over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the flour once the butter is melted, stirring constantly to avoid burning and until the roux is a light golden brown (about 4 minutes). Once the roux is done, gradually add the warmed milk and cream, whisking constantly to incorporate and make a béchamel sauce. Raise heat to medium-high and bring sauce to a low boil, whisking constantly. Reduce to a simmer, whisking occasionally, and cook until béchamel sauce is thick and coats the back of a spoon, about 3 minutes more. Add the salt, pepper, mustard powder and cayenne to the béchamel and stir well to incorporate. Then add the cheeses gradually, continuing to stir and making sure all the cheese is melted.
Add the cheese sauce to the drained macaroni and stir well to coat. Transfer macaroni mixture to the buttered baking dish. Top first with sliced tomatoes, and then sprinkle topping evenly over macaroni and bake until golden and bubbling, about 30 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes before serving.

NOTES:
• Before you begin cooking, measure out the salt, pepper, cayenne and mustard into a small dish so you can just dump all at once into your sauce
• Cook the macaroni before you begin making your sauce.
• You can make the macaroni ahead of time, put it all together but wait to make it until right before you are going to serve it.
• Rather than grate the cheese, I used my food processor to save time.
• This creates lots of dishes! See if you can get someone to clean up after you!

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