A few years ago, my friend Alyssa and I went to the theaters to see Becoming Jane. I don’t know if you’ve seen this movie but for a Jane Austen enthusiast, I found the movie to be horribly depressing and so did Alyssa! We left the theater in a stupor, intent on finding some way to cheer ourselves up. We wandered over to Borders and went straight to the cooking section. Alyssa and I had already shared our love of pasta with each other, so we started looking through a pasta cookbook and in it we found a recipe for Macaroni and Cheese. The picture in the book looked to die for so we wrote down the recipe in our phones, went to the store to get the ingredients and then went home to make the Macaroni and Cheese and spend the night watching uplifting movies. The Macaroni and Cheese worked like magic! We were out of our stupor and hooked on Homemade Macaroni and Cheese. Later on, we both became obsessed with the Macaroni and Cheese from the Whole Foods hot bar. We would go to Whole Foods together every couple of months and eat mounds of Macaroni and Cheese, paired with a Brie, Turkey, Pesto Mayonnaise and Basil Panini on a Croissant and a piece of Chocolate Decadence Cake. One day, we wrote down the ingredients in the Whole Foods Macaroni and Cheese so we could incorporate it into our other recipe. We made Macaroni and Cheese several more times, always adjusting the recipe until we got it JUST RIGHT. This is now one of our all-time-favorite dishes. This week is the beginning of a new school quarter and I wanted to get a few of my friends together to catch up on our breaks and share some delicious Macaroni and Cheese. I actually adjusted Alyssa’s and my fool-proof recipe a bit because I wanted to use white cheddar (a suggestion from a friend) and I ended up going a little cheese crazy and adding more than I normally do. The sauce came out a little grainier than normal, but it was still delicious and ever so satisfying. Here's the non-grainy recipe.
Alyssa and Brittany’s Fool-Proof Homemade Macaroni and Cheese
1 Pound pasta (I used Campanelle this time, but I really like using Cellentani too. Normal shells or elbow macaroni would do the trick though.)
3 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons flour
3 Cups milk, half-and-half or cream (Go for the good stuff! You know you want to!)
Salt and White Pepper to taste
2 Pinches of nutmeg (This is optional and I know some people don’t like nutmeg but I really believe this dish isn’t worth making without it! It adds so much to the flavor. Be a little adventurous)
1/2 Pound Sharp Cheddar (White cheddar works as well and I added a little Parmesan too. Feel free to experiment with the cheeses. Like Swiss? Go for it!)
1 Cup additional cheese to top
1/2 Cup bread crumbs
3 Tablespoons butter
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Boil water and cook the pasta.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan on medium heat and then whisk in the flour. Whisk quickly without letting it burn. Add in the milk and whisk the mixture, making sure that all of the butter and flour are mixed in well. Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Keep stirring until the mixture begins to thicken. Be careful to make sure it doesn’t start to burn. Turn up the heat to medium-high. No matter how many times I make white sauce, I always feel like it will never thicken. Don't worry-it always does. Once the sauce has thickened, add in the 1/2 pound of cheese and let it all melt into the sauce.
Mix the sauce with the cooked and drained pasta. Pour the pasta into a 9x13 inch pan.
Spread the remaining cup of cheese over the pasta.
Melt the remaining butter and mix with the bread crumbs. Sprinkle over the cheese.
Bake at 350 until the cheese and bread crumbs start to brown. The sauce will begin to bubble and become less liquidy.
I would really make this every week in the winter if I didn’t have any self control. I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do.