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Cheddar Mac & Cheese

June 24, 2010
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I love boxed Kraft macaroni and cheese.  I’m not entirely sure why I love it so much, since it’s unhealthy and has all kinds of funky (in a bad way) ingredients, but I do.  Nate bought a 6-pack of macaroni and cheese, and a number of the boxes are still uneaten, sitting on top of the kitchen cupboard.  I’m telling you this because we’ve recently started trying to eat up all the food in the cupboards, freezer, and fridge, so it was practically my duty to make a box of the mac and cheese.  Right?!?

Well, after a bit more scrounging around, I also discovered some pasta, something that looked like onions that was on the verge of being tossed into the garbage (but they weren’t onions- they were kind of like baby garlic), a rock-hard baguette (which really should have been in the garbage) and some knobs of assorted cheese.  I decided that I’d be better serving our “everything must be eaten!” efforts by just making my own mac and cheese because I’d be using more things up.

It turned out that I was lucky we had a full baguette to use up instead of just half.  I wanted to make my own bread crumbs to put on top of the mac and cheese, so I broke up (or should I say smashed) half the loaf and put it on a tray to get crispy in the oven.  Five minutes later the kitchen was filled with smoke and my “bread crumbs” looked like ash.  My next step was to break up the other half of the baguette and then I just sprinkled the crumbs on top of the mac and cheese and they browned during the baking process. 

I used to think I needed a recipe for making macaroni and cheese, but then I discovered that it’s not an exact science.  All you need to do is make a roux (butter, flour and milk), add in some cheese and cooked pasta, and you’re pretty much done.  You don’t even need to bake the thing!  It only requires a little more effort than the boxed mac and cheese, and you get to feel good about yourself because you used up tons of stuff! (or maybe that’s just me.)

Cheddar Mac and Cheese

As I said before, I don’t think mac and cheese is an exact science.  You can stir the cheese into the roux so it melts, or you can layer the cheese on top of the pasta.  I like to be able to see my cheese, so for this I made two (yes, two) cheese layers- I sprinkled the cheese on after I put half the pasta in the dish and I sprinkled the rest on top.  That said, these are guidelines and not much more!

1/2 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, diced

3 tbsp butter

2 tbsp flour

2 c milk (Or cream, if your metabolism can handle that.  If it can, I’m really jealous.)

1 cup grated cheese

al dente pasta (the more interesting the shape, the better it tastes)

2 c bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Sautee the onion in the butter until soft over medium heat and then add in the garlic.  Stir for about a minute, and then add in the flour.  Stir until the mixture starts to darken a little, and then whisk in the milk.  You don’t want clumps (although it’s hard to tell clumps from bits of onion…) and if it gets thick immediately, add more milk.  Once the mixture has thickened, remove from heat (now is when you could stir in your cheese so it gets melty) and stir in the pasta.  Pour the pasta in a greased baking dish (and sprinkle with cheese, if you want), sprinkle with bread crumbs, and bake for 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and the top is browned.

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