Cheese

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Posted in Cheese, Pasta on February 12th, 2011 by admin – 1 Comment

It’s surprisingly hard to find a good baked macaroni and cheese recipe on the internet. I think it’s because they tend to be either of the “easy” (a.k.a. Velveeta) variety, or they add something strange to justify being Yet Another Recipe for something everyone is expected to already know how to make.

The first recipe I had tried was an Alton Brown recipe on the Food Network. It looked relatively safe, is the reason I own mustard powder, and I learned to temper an egg.

I remember Andrew’s reaction was, “It’s rather oniony”.

“Does that mean too oniony?”

“Yes.”

I think we both dutifully ate a plate, left the rest in the fridge for a day, and then threw it out.


I finally got a good, and by good I mean – I’m already giving away the ending – but the best baked macaroni and cheese I’ve ever eaten, which will otherwise be known as Aeravon’s heart-attack-in-a-pan.

Ingredients:
1 lb box of Macaroni (elbow) noodles
1 lb each of 4 flavors of cheese (we use Mozzarella, sharp cheddar, mild cheddar and colby jack) Note: a mix of colors makes the final product look nice, and we use the mozzarella specifically for stiffness and a great “cheese pull” effect)
2 eggs

In the grocery store Andrew kept questioning, was that really a pound each or maybe that was supposed to be a 1-pound mixed bag. A side note said that could be cut down to 3/4 of a pound (each) for a still-cheezy but less deadly effect. Since I’ve recently converted myself to this Barilla Plus pasta – which is healthier than regular pasta, not as healthy as that whole wheat stuff (but what good is healthy when it’s not edible?) – which comes in a little under a pound box, I bought four packages of a little under a pound of cheese each, sticking to the original recommendations.

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
Boil noodles as direct on package. While noodles are boiling cut cheese into 1/2 inch squares. Drain noodles, then mix the noodles with the cheese squares in a very large bowl (you do not have to mash the cheese blocks prior to this, but you you can if you like).

So if I had been paying attention I would have realized the cheese didn’t need to be shredded in the first place. I had thought that much cheese was definitely somewhere I was allowed to cheat and buy the packages. Or maybe I’m still getting to cheat because I don’t have to cube it!

Using my largest mixing bowl I was able to add… two packages of cheese…

and then had to dig out my soup pot because it was the only container in the kitchen big enough to hold it all, let alone mix.

Add the 2 eggs, mix until everything is well covered (with egg).

Optional: During the mixing step you can add meats (ground turkey is nice), tomatoes or top with bread crumbs just before you put it in the oven for a little extra crunch.

Ground turkey sounds like it might be worth trying in the future but I wanted to be authentic to true macaroni and cheese for the initial test. Bread crumbs however I think are traditional so I sprinkled some panko on top.

Bake approximately 20-25 minutes until top is golden brown and cheese is well melted. Let rest for a few minutes for the mass to solidify before serving if you desire.

As I said, I already gave away the ending – this was the best macaroni and cheese I can ever remember having, and I’m not just gushing because I know the owner of the recipe is going to read this. It’s exactly what I was looking for – true baked macaroni with no Velveeta, onions, or hot sauce. It might even be cheesy enough to cover up the taste of real whole wheat pasta.

Yummy detail shot makes me sad we actually ate this all last weekend.