The weather is pretty crappy here today. We are suffering through the tail end of Hurricane Igor (actually I think it may have been downgraded to a tropical storm) as it works its way up the north east edge of Canada. It isn’t that cold and the wind isn’t too bad, but the rain is teeming down. It is absolutely pouring outside. I got soaked running from the car to the house (well, I was wearing a slight heel, which I can’t run well in. I guess I was trotting, for lack of a better term). Now that I’m in, I want to stay in. Unfortunately, I work for an insurance company and when the weather is bad, I still have to go in. People tend to drive around and smack into each other and their roof’s leak during inclement weather. How inconvenient. Anyway, I am in the mood for comfort food, and comfort food doesn’t get any more comforting than home made macaroni and cheese. Much like many of my favourite recipes, this also gets better as it sits, so it’s great as leftovers for lunch.
Macaroni and cheese is probably one of the first recipes I mastered. I have adapted this recipe from Company’s Coming Pasta book. I remember trying to decide what to make for dinner one evening and looking through Mom’s cookbooks. I found this recipe and we had all of the ingredients on hand, so I made it. It called for breadcrumbs, which we didn’t have, so I used Special K. It was surprisingly tasty. The recipe was very forgiving and I’ve adapted it to include a lot more cheese, as well as a bit of a variety of cheese. Because more cheese is better. And bacon. You can always add in a few lardons at the beginning instead of just butter and make a roux with the bacon fat. Just make sure to wipe the grease off your fingers so you can dial 911 (or 999 for my UK readers) when you suffer from a coronary. Or it could just be a foodgasm. Nah, it’s probably a coronary.
1 pound of macaroni
3 + 1 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, minced (I actually blitzed it in the food processor as it was dirty from grating all of the cheese. Normally I do it by hand, but I was feeling a little lazy tonight.)
3 tablespoons flour
2 3/4 cup of milk
pinch of salt, pepper and paprika
2 cups each of grated gruyere and cheddar cheese
1 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup or so of panko breadcrumbs or whatever topping you like
1. Cook macaroni in a large pot of boiling water with a handful of salt. If you don’t salt the water, you can’t really season the pasta itself. Cook for about 7-8 minutes. Make sure you drain it before it is fully cooked, as it will continue to cook as the pasta bakes.
2. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook until translucent and sweet, about 10 minutes or so. Add the flour and stir to combine well. Cook the roux for about 2 minutes. Add the milk and whisk to combine. Add another pinch of salt, pepper and paprika.
3. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and add most of the cheese, reserving about a handful of each for the topping. Pour into a buttered casserole dish.
4. Top with the remaining cheese, bread crumbs and butter broken into pats with your fingers. Bake in a 350 oven for about 30 minutes or until browned and bubbly.
I’m going to go chow down on this while watching a few episodes of Mad Men. Ketchup is optional…