September 1, 2009

Our Favorite Macaroni and Cheese

I originally adapted this recipe from the Pasta & Co. By Request cookbook. We made it for Peanut's first birthday party and it's been a family (and friend) favorite since. You can really use any cheese you like. The original recipe calls for half cheddar and half mozzarella, which makes for a creamier dish and lots of stretchy cheese. But our family prefers sharp cheddar, so that is what we used. You might be tempted to leave the Tabasco out if you are cooking for children, but please put at least a little really brings out the flavor of the cheddar.

Our Favorite Macaroni & Cheese

1 lb sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated
1 lb Colby Jack cheese, grated
3 cups milk (whole, 2%, or 1%)
7 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 lb dried pasta (radiatore or rigatoni work best)
2 tsp Tabasco sauce
1/3 tsp pepper
3/4 tsp paprika
3/4 cup milk (whole, 2%, or 1%)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Combine grated cheddar and Colby jack and set aside.

3. In a small saucepan, heat 3 cups milk until near boiling. Turn off heat.

4. Melt butter in a heavy pan large enough to hold the pasta after it is cooked. (It will take at least a 14" sauté pan or a large casserole that can take direct heat.) When foam from butter recedes, remove from heat, add flour, and mix well. Return to medium-low heat, and, stirring occasionally, simmer for 2 to 3 minutes to cook, but not brown, the flour. Gradually stir in hot milk. Raise heat to medium-high and continue stirring until mixture is smooth and thick, about 3 minutes. Add parmesan cheese. Whisk until smooth. Add Tabasco and pepper and blend.

5. Cook pasta until just underdone. Thoroughly drain pasta and fold it into the mik/parmesan mixture.

6. Layer one-half of the pasta mixture into a 9" x 13" pan. Top with half of the cheese mixture. Repeat layers. Top with paprika, sprinkled evenly over the top.

7. If not baking immediately, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze. When ready to bake, drizzle the 3/4 cup milk over the dish. Bake for approximately 1 hour. If frozen, add at least 20 minutes to baking time. The dish should be rusty brown on top. Should it appear to be browning too fast, cover with foil for part of cooking time. Be sure to check for doneness in the very center of the dish.

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