Friday, June 18, 2010

Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

Preheat the oven to 350.

First, cook about 4 cups of noodles for 5 - 7 minutes. You want them slightly undercooked, since they'll be baking in the oven afterwards.

How to make a roux, for the white sauce:

In a large saucepan or dutch oven, melt 1/2 stick of butter, over medium heat.

Sprinkle in an equal amount of flour, whisking as you go, then continue cooking for about 5 minutes, whisking constantly. (This is called a roux, which is the beginning of a cream sauce or gravy.)

Quickly add about a tablespoon of minced garlic, whisking it into the roux.

Add 2 1/2 cups of Whole milk, and continue stirring, then add  1/4 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon garlic salt (or regular salt if you don't have garlic salt), 1 teaspoon of paprika, 1 tablespoon of parsley, and about 1 teaspoon onion powder, letting it simmer for 5 - 7 minute, or until thickened. 

After it's thickened, turn it off, and remove from the heat, and stir in about 16 oz of sharp cheddar cheese. Now, you'll stir in your hot, straight from the water noodles (drained of course!).
(I usually use Ziti (or tubini), Cavatappi, or bow tie pasta, that's our favorite. You can also combine boxes of noodles, to be fun! So for example, three and a half cups of wagon wheels and a handful of orzo or ditalini makes for a kid-friendly and nicely textured meal (plus, a change from the regular "elbow macaroni mac and cheese".)

Pour into a casserole dish or ramekins, spraying with non-stick spray first.

The unique part of my macaroni and cheese (besides the simple, yet delicious sauce!) is the fact that I top it with my buttered bread crumbs. Once your noodles have been stirred into the sauce, and poured into a buttered or non-stick-sprayed casserole dish, top them with the breadcrumbs and about 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese and bake for 18 - 25 minutes. (Depends on the pasta you use, and the dish you're baking in, so just check in on it frequently during cooking).

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