mac n cheese

Posted on December 18, 2011


After what seemed like a grueling day of cleaning and Christmas shopping, I came home with a few ingredients hoping I could make something tasty and filling. It was colder out today than the several days and weeks that came before.

My last stop on my epic shopping trip included: grated cheddar cheese, whole milk, and a box of gomiti (aka, elbow pasta but with lines so the sauce sticks a bit better). I hoped against hope that I had everything I would need to make some good baked mac n cheese.

I have used the Pioneer woman’s recipe before, which I use as a go-to, when I’m overtired, or trying too hard to multitask and need to look back at a recipe to think about what I’ve done, and what the actual measurements called for for a seasoning.

I usually boil the pasta for about 5 minutes in decently heavily salted water. I make anywhere from 1lb, to 1.5 lbs of pasta, depending on your desired consistency. Obviously, more pasta, drier in the end, less pasta, gooey cheesy goodness. It also depends on how far I am trying to stretch this meal (how many people show up to dinner usually dictates the amount of pasta I use).
When the pasta is done, start preheating the oven : 350*

Drain the pasta, and then take the same large pot you boiled water in, and start to melt a half a stick of butter. Slowly whisk in a 1/4 c flour in (low heat!) and cook for several minutes, mixing the whole time so that it doesn’t get chunky or burn. Then mix in 2 1/2 c of milk (you can use anything you have, I’ve used mixtures of cream and skim, and whole and everything) slowly, keep it at a lower heat.

In a small bowl, cup, mug, whatever you have, beat an egg.

If you are me, you will at this point, push the egg to the back of the counter, turn the gas way down low, pull and chair into the pantry to search the shelves above eye level in search of dry mustard. If you cannot find it, like I could not (I think it jumped into the trash barrel, or someone pushed it to it’s premature end!) If you then stomp your foot and google how to sub dry mustard, you’ll probably see in the first few responses that you should use 1+ tbs prepared mustard for every 1 tbs of dry. I would not take this as WORD. I did this, and HOLY MUSTARD!

So. After searching for what felt like FOREVER (probably didn’t help that my stomach was grumbling…) I dumped two plus tbs of spicy brown mustard into the mix and whisked it in. Temper* the egg, using the same 1/4 measuring cup, you used before.

I add two bags of cheddar cheese (we prefer white cheddar, so I usually go for vermont cheddar, sharp- if it’s cheaper to grate it myself, then I go that way) so roughly 16 oz, I think. I reserve about 3/4 c to sprinkle on top before cooking. Mix in, at a medium -low heat until you cant see the pieces of cheese anymore.

Add: 1/2 tspn salt
1/2 tspn seasoned salt (lawry’s is what we have)
1 tspn of pepper

taste it after this, and add what you think it needs to suit your taste. I go a little heavy on pepper. Sometimes I add cayenne pepper, or something a little more spicy.

Mix in pasta. Sometimes it helps to break it apart with your hands as you add it. That way you don’t have to try to break it up when you are mixing it in the pot.

Butter (lightly?) a 9×13 baking dish, or a few smaller ones, and sprinkle with cheese. Then bake for 25-30 mins, or until crispy and brown on top. Sometimes when I’m in a rush, I cook for about 20 mins, then broil on low, making sure to watch it CLOSELY!

I usually like to add some hot sauce, and then devour! If, on the off chance you don’t finish this in one sitting? It keeps really well!

*Temper an egg: whisk a hot milk [mixture], usually found in pudding recipes. you want to make sure that you don’t cook the egg immediately, so add the hot milk in little bits (tspns at a time) until it’s mixed in completely.