Tidewater Kitchen - February 2010

 

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Mac and Cheese
by
Pamela Meredith Doyle

Ever since I was a child I have been passionate about macaroni and cheese! Whenever my mom asked what I wanted for dinner – you guessed it – I said mac and cheese! What could be better? These are the real, rich, old-fashioned mac and cheese recipes that can serve as a full comfort meal when accompanied by a simple green salad.
It takes a bit longer to make, but it really is worth the extra time. Children will eat it hot or cold, and it isn’t unheard of for second and third helpings to disappear.

MACARONI & CHEESE DELUXE
Serves 6 or more
Everyone will love it, including your husband. Take this to a friend’s house and you will return with an empty dish! It is a gourmet way of making macaroni and cheese.

1 7-oz. pkg. elbow macaroni
2 cups small curd, cream-style cottage cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 egg, beaten
½ t. sea salt
1/8 t. pepper
8 oz. (2 cups) sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Paprika

Preheat oven to 350°. Cook macaroni according to package directions (undercook the pasta slightly so the finished dish will not feature mushy macaroni).
Drain the macaroni in a large colander and rinse with cold water and set aside. Combine the cottage cheese, sour cream, egg, sea salt and pepper. Add the shredded cheese, mixing well; stir in macaroni.
Pour the mixture into a prepared 9-inch square dish. Sprinkle the top with paprika. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until bubbly and brown.

OLD-FASHIONED MAC & CHEESE
Serves 6 or more
Children really love this – it is a real kid pleaser! My niece makes this with my mom.

6 T. butter
1 lb. elbow macaroni
6 slices French baguette bread, crusts removed, torn into ¼-inch pieces like large bread crumbs
2 T. butter, melted
5½ cups whole milk
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 t. sea salt
¼ t. freshly ground pepper
1/8 t. nutmeg
1/8 t. cayenne pepper
4 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups grated Gruyere cheese

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9” x 13” dish. Cook the macaroni according to directions until the pasta is slightly underdone.
Drain the macaroni in a large colander and rinse with cold water and set aside. Stir together the torn bread and 2 T. melted butter in a small bowl. Melt 6 T. butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Gradually whisk in flour until smooth; cook, whisking constantly, for 1 minute.
Gradually whisk in the milk; cook, whisking constantly until thickened, about 3 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and season with sea salt, pepper, nutmeg and cayenne pepper. Add 3 cups (reserving 1 cup) of the cheddar cheese and 1 cup (reserving 1 cup) of the Gruyere. Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth and golden yellow.
Combine the drained macaroni with the cheese sauce in a large bowl. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Spread the remaining cheese over the top of the macaroni and top with the buttered bread crumbs.
Bake for 30 minutes until heated through, bubbling and golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and serve.

Tip: Try baking the macaroni and cheese in ramekins for 20 to 25 minutes, giving everyone their own individual servings. This method also makes it easy to reserve for the late-arriving spouse or child who can just reheat it in the microwave.

MACARONI and CHEESE with HAM
Serves 6
This calls for elbow macaroni, but your favorite pasta will work just fine.

1 lb. elbow macaroni
2 T. butter
3 T. all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
1 12-oz. can evaporated milk
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 3-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
½ t. sea salt
¼ t. cayenne pepper
8 oz. pkg. cooked smoked ham, chopped
2 cups cornflakes, crushed
2 T. butter, melted
Paprika

Preheat oven to 350°. Cook the macaroni according to directions until the pasta is slightly underdone. Drain the macaroni in a large colander and rinse with cold water and set aside.
Melt 2 T. butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Gradually whisk in flour until smooth; cook, whisking constantly, for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk and evaporated milk. Cook, whisking constantly until mixture is thickened, about 3 minutes. Whisk in cheddar, cream cheese, sea salt and cayenne until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in chopped ham.
Combine pasta and cheese mixture and pour into a lightly greased 9” x 13” baking dish.
Stir together crushed cornflakes and 2 T. melted butter and sprinkle over pasta mixture. Sprinkle with paprika.
Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until bubbling and golden brown on top.

MACARONI & BEEF CASSEROLE
Serves 6
This is a recipe from my late Aunt Marge, who was a wonderful cook.

1 lb. ground beef
2 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup green pepper, chopped
2 T. parsley
2 cups canned tomatoes
1 T. ketchup
1 T. A-1 sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2½ cups elbow macaroni
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 350°. Cook macaroni according to package directions until slightly underdone. Drain the macaroni in a large colander and rinse with cold water and set aside.
In a large saucepan saute onions, green pepper, parsley and ground beef in the olive oil. Add tomatoes, ketchup, A-1 sauce, salt and pepper and reduce heat. Cook for 4 minutes. Stir in mushroom soup and cook for 4 more minutes.
Place drained pasta in a 9” x 13” baking dish and add mixed ingredients. Add grated cheese on top and bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until cheese is bubbly on top.

MAC and CHEESE VEGGIE BAKE
Serves 6-8
Enjoy this tasty twist on macaroni and cheese with veggies.

1 8-oz. pkg. elbow macaroni
1 cup chopped fresh broccoli
1 cup yellow squash, diced
½ cup carrot, diced
1 small Vidalia onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red pepper, diced
3 T. virgin olive oil
1 16-oz. container ricotta cheese or small curd cream-style cottage cheese
1 12-oz. can evaporated milk
1 T. Dijon mustard
½ t. sea salt
½ t. freshly ground pepper
2 large eggs, beaten
3 small tomatoes, sliced
1/3 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a 13”x9” baking dish. Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain in a large colander, rinse with cold water and set aside.
Sauté broccoli, squash, carrot, onion, red pepper and garlic in olive oil in Dutch oven over medium heat for 4 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat and add macaroni, cheese, milk, mustard, salt and pepper. Stir in beaten eggs.
Pour into the baking dish. Top with tomato slices and sprinkle with breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Bake, covered, for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake for 20 more minutes or until golden brown.

EASY BOILED MACARONI and CHEESE
Make ahead and add more cream and cheese if it gets too dry.

1 t sea salt
2 cups elbow macaroni
½ cup cream
½ cup or more sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Cook macaroni according to package directions until tender. Drain in a large colander and return to saucepan. Stir and reheat over low heat with ½ cup cream and ½ cup or more grated sharp cheddar cheese and salt. Serve at once.