One of the weird things from my childhood is that my mom never made homemade macaroni and cheese. She allowed us to eat Kraft “the cheesiest.” I used to pretend they each piece of macaroni was a log that needed to be neatly stacked just like my dad taught me when we used to cut firewood. The reason this is odd is because this was the same woman who put wheat bran and germ into our pancakes and made us eat old fashioned oatmeal EVERY DAY as kids. We were always “big” people but my mom always seemed to be concerned with what we ate and the health impact that went with it.
Except mac and cheese.
So as I got older and as much as I still honestly like the one in the blue box, I have discovered a whole new world.
I make two different versions of mac. One is dayglo orange which I will post down the road, and the other, is this great one done by our favorite ex-con Martha Stewart.
She did some show years ago with our (Seattle) local cheese-maker Kurt Beecher Dammeier and his flagship cheddar. We serve this a couple times a year, and has become a tradition for a few of our annual birthday bashes.
This one takes a little longer to make but is SO WORTH IT.
Martha’s Mac and Cheese (with Beecher’s Flagship Cheddar)
1/2 stick butter
1/3 cup AP flour
3 cups whole milk
14 oz Beecher’s flagship cheddar, grated
2 oz jack cheese, grated
1/2 t salt
1/2 t chili powder
1/8 t garlic powder
6 oz penne (cook for less than you are supposed to on package)
2 cups cheese sauce
1 oz Beecher’s flagship cheddar, grated
1 oz gruyere, grated
1/4 t chili powder
First of all, I have found that the cheese sauce covers about 2 pounds of pasta. No kidding. Besides, who needs to save it for another time when you can eat it now!
For cheese sauce, melt your stick of butter and then stir in the flour. Cook for about 3 or so minutes. Add the milk slowly and carefully bring to a boil. Add the cheese (we have found that a food processor with grater attachment makes short work of the grating step), salt, chili powder and garlic powders. Bring to a light simmer or until all cheese is melted.
For the Mac cook the pasta for about 2 minutes less than the package calls for. Drain and then run cold water over it (I used to think this was dumb, but now get why they say to do it, it stops the pasta from cooking and also helps it from not getting sticky or mushy). Pour back into pot and add some of the cheese sauce, stir and then cover with the extra grated cheese and chili powder.
Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes in an oiled casserole pan.