Thursday, September 16, 2010

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese

The other day I was in dire need of some macaroni and cheese. Real macaroni and cheese. In the past, my go-to solution has always been the frozen Stouffer's stuff because it is thick, creamy, and requires no cooking! So a good macaroni and cheese recipe is a real linchpin in my "quit buying frozen and prepared foods and instead make and freeze them yourself" mission. I found this recipe and went to work making myself some real honest to goodness macaroni and cheese. On a weeknight no less.

Makes: 6-8 servings

2 slices cooked bacon
12 oz pasta
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 cups Cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk

PREHEAT oven to 350F

BOIL water in a large saucepan
ADD pasta
COOK until aldente

CHOP onion into small pieces (about 1/4" square)
MINCE garlic
ADD onion and garlic to skillet over medium-low heat
SAUTE until onion becomes transparent and glossy
REMOVE from heat

SLICE bacon into small bits
ADD to onion and garlic

GRATE 3 cups cheddar cheese

MELT butter over low heat in a large saucepan
ADD flour
STIR consistently for 2 minutes, until the butter is fully incorporated into the flour
SLOWLY POUR the milk into the butter-flour mixture while STIRRING consistently
CONTINUE STIRRING until the mixture has thickened and has an even consistency
ADD two cups of the cheddar cheese
STIR until melted

ADD pasta and onion mix to the sauce
MIX well
POUR into a 2 quart casserole dish
TOP with remaining 1 cup of cheddar cheese
BAKE until top is browned, 15-20 minutes


My Thoughts
1. The butter and flour base for the sauce is a roux, essentially a way to thicken milk based sauces. The trick here is to pour the milk in very slowly, a little at a time, and stir like crazy.

2. The macaroni was wonderfully cheesy and the onion and bacon gave it a nice break from the ordinary. It would be fantastic with

3. This came together relatively quickly, I cooked the onions and garlic while the pasta boiled, drained the pasta, pulled together my sauce and popped the whole thing in the oven. I went from pulling stuff of the fridge to the dinner table in about 45 minutes.

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