Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Classic Macaroni and Cheese

Last night I polled the girls I was babysitting (it was really fun to have girl time with my friends' daughters while they were able to have a date night) on their favorite things to eat for dinner.  This was after I had fed them a decidedly grown up Autumn menu of the Pioneer Woman's Pork Roast with Apples and Onions over Wild Rice with Roasted Brussels Sprouts which they very politely ate and were very good sports about but I don't think will be asking for anytime soon--I thought it was pretty good, though!).  All three of them said quite confidently: Macaroni and Cheese. 

I don't think they're alone.  Mac and Cheese is a favorite among many of us and even though most kids are partial to the stuff that comes in a blue box, as an adult I would pick the homemade kind anytime.  It's good as a main dish, it's good as a side dish, it's even lovelier to bring to a pot luck so that you can spread around the cheesy wealth!  Check out the make ahead option if you're a planner!

Classic Macaroni and Cheese
1 lb. pasta shapes (I like to use elbows)
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
a few dashes of hot sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 1/4 cups chicken broth
3 1/2 cups milk
8 oz. Colby Jack cheese, shredded
8 oz. Sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
ground black pepper
3/4 cup crushed buttery cracker crumbs (like Ritz)

Directions: Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add in a few teaspoons of salt and pasta shapes to water and cook just until pasta begins to soften, about 5 minutes.  Drain the pasta and set aside in the colander. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In the same pot, melt butter over medium high heat.  Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly just until golden (about 1 minute).  Stir in dry mustard, garlic powder, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce.  Whisk in chicken broth and milk, a little at a time, until smooth.  Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until mixture comes to a boil and is thickened, about 10 minutes.  Gradually stir in cheeses, whisking until completely smooth.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.  Stir drained pasta into cheese sauce. 

Transfer mixture to a greased 9"x11" baking dish.  Sprinkle with crushed cracker crumbs* and bake uncovered, 30-35 minutes, or until mixture is bubbling and crumb topping is golden brown.  Also, as Annie suggests, you might want to put a baking sheet under the dish to catch any sauce that may bubble over. 

*At this point, the dish can be wrapped tightly with foil and refrigerated for up to 2 days.  To serve, bake covered at 400˚ F until the filling is hot throughout, about 40-45 minutes.  Remove the foil and continue to bake until the breadcrumbs are crisp, 15-20 minutes more.

Slightly adapted from: Annie's Eats

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