I love cheese. All the kinds. Yesterday I went to the grocery store to stock up on essentials. Once all my items were all out on the checkout conveyor, I thought, wow that is a lot of cheese I am buying. I wonder if the checkout person noticed? Did she think, wow this lady sure does like cheese? Well I do. And what better way to use it than macaroni and cheese.
In 2003-2004 when I really started to find my joy in cooking during my college/graduate school days, my mom bought me a cookbook "Cooking for Comfort" with a giant delicious looking mac n cheese on the cover. The author is NY Times columnist and author Marian Burros, and it was published in 2003. The introduction alludes to a post-9/11 food scene in NYC of a return to comfort food. This recipe hits the spot. Probably not a typical southern style mac n cheese but it has turned into my favorite recipe for it. I've tried several recipes, some just stove top only, and others like this one that bake in the oven. All have been good, but I keep coming back to this one. I hope you enjoy it too!
Total Time: 1 hr (includes 30 minutes baking in the oven)
Serves: 6 as a side dish
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups milk (I use 1 or 2%)
1 tbsp Dijon mustard (creamy not grainy)
12 oz extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, grated, with 2 tbsp reserved for the topping
Pinch of salt and pepper
1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 to 1/2 tsp hot sauce
8 ounces of your favorite pasta.
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese (or Parmigiano-Reggiano, or other similar Italian hard cheese)
- Preheat oven to 400-F. Place rack on the bottom third of the oven.
- In a large stock pot, bring water to boil for the pasta. Once it comes to a boil, add 2 tbsp of salt to the water and add the pasta, cook per pasta directions. Drain. Do not rinse the pasta.
- While waiting for the pasta water to boil and pasta to cook, make the sauce. In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add in the onion and cook the onion over low heat for 5-7 minutes until the onion is translucent. Do not brown.
- Stir in the flour.
- Remove from the heat, and whisk in the milk until blended. Return to the heat, medium, and cook, stirring constantly (gently) until the mixture begins to thicken. For me, that usually take 5-7 minutes.
- Remove from the heat, add in the Dijon mustard, pinch of salt and pepper, nutmeg, hot sauce. Stir until blended.
- Add in the cooked pasta and 10 oz of the shredded cheddar. Stir until blended.
- Spoon the mixture into a 9x13 baking dish. Top with the remaining 2 tbsp of cheddar cheese and all of the Parmesan cheese.
- Transfer the dish to the oven, and cook for about 30 minutes or until it's bubbling and browning around the edges.