Our neighborhood really is a neighborhood, and when a family has an emergency, everyone tends to pitch in to help them out. On a few occasions, everyone has organized to provide dinner for a few weeks for families that have had to deal with medical emergencies. One of my nights on the rota the last time this occurred, I made macaroni and cheese and took it over along with a side of veg and cupcakes for dessert (I spared them talk of pyroclastic flows, of course).
And it happened that the family liked it so much that the mom asked me for the recipe. Which I have been forgetting to write down for 18 months or so. For no other reason than I'm old or dopey or something. And because I've been making it so long, the recipe mainly lives in my head, so I actually do have to write it down.
(The daughter watched me making marinara sauce the other night and said, "How do you do that?" I don't know. I just do it.)
By way of penance, I'm now going to share my macaroni and cheese recipe with the world. Then I'm going to print it out and give it to KG. I'm sorry for taking so long! But at least now it's getting cool enough that a nice casserole won't go amiss.
Good Old Fashioned Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Adapted from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, 12th edition.
2 Tbl butter
2 Tbl canola oil
5 Tbl white whole wheat flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
2-1/2 c. skim milk, heated
2 c. grated Cheddar cheese, divided usage
Pinch of cayenne
10 oz. macaroni or medium shells, cooked to package directions and drained
1/2 c. bread crumbs (optional)
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 1-1/2 qt. casserole and set aside.
Heat butter and oil together in a heavy-bottomed saucepan until butter is melted. Stir in flour and cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Do not allow the mixture to brown. Add the hot milk slowly, stirring constantly as the sauce thickens. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and add 1-1/2 c. grated cheese, stirring until all cheese has melted. Add cayenne, then add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
Put cooked macaroni or shells in casserole and pour cheese sauce over it. Mix gently until the sauce is well distributed, sprinkle grated cheese over top of casserole and spread bread crumbs over the cheese if you so desire. Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes until the top is golden and the sauce is bubbling.
Notes: A good medium or sharp cheddar is great in this, depending on your taste, but I've also combined Cheddar with Jack, Dubliner Irish or Cabot. It all depends on what I have on hand. Experiment!
This doesn't have to be served as a casserole. When I'm short on time, I just mix the sauce into the hot macaroni and serve it up. The pasta absorbs some of the sauce while baking, so it's a little more soupy when it's not baked.
Pairs up well with steamed broccoli or a nice green salad for a complete meal.
Go listen to some music: "Yankee Doodle Dandy" is a traditional children's song with lyrics attributed to Richard Shuckburgh.