I mentioned in a recent post how much I love mac n cheese, but I didn’t mention that it took me almost 40 years to learn how to make it. I tried and tried, searched through recipes and tried combinations of recipes, but nothing ever quite got me where I needed to be, got me to that perfect combination of creaminess, cheesiness and macaroniness. And then one day it hit me:
There’s no need to bake this shiz.
Harps played. Angels sang. The skies opened and silvery light filtered down to shine upon my creation. When I realized I would never again have to butter a casserole dish and pop it in the oven in hopeful anticipation, I almost cried.
It was like finding nirvana, (which is different than listening to Nirvana.) It also gave me a jumping off point for doing stuff to my macaroni and cheese, because it’s a fabulous basic recipe you tweak just by adding schtuff.
I still make mac n cheese lots of different ways. I’d hate to waste all those years of experimentation. But this way is comfort. This way is home. This way is a fuzzy robe and binge-watching Buffy.
Hello, Spike : )
- 1 pound of your favorite small pasta (I like the tiny shells)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 egg
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup half and half
- 1 tablespoon Colmans dry mustard
- 1 pound sharp cheddar, grated
- Salt and pepper to taste (I like lots of pepper)
Cook the shells until they are al dente. Drain and dump into a hugical bowl.
In a large pot, melt the butter and whisk in the flour to make a roux. Cook together for 5 minutes over a medium heat, whisking constantly. Add the milk, half and half, and the mustard. Continue cooking and whisking until it thickens.
Crack the egg into a large measuring cup and beat it. Slowly pour in about 1/3 cup of the roux mixture while whisking vigorously to temper the egg. (I use a super tiny whisk for this … it’s awesome and also adorable.) Pour the egg mixture into the rest of the sauce and stir until smooth. Add the cheese, salt and pepper and stir until the cheese is melted. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
Pour the cheese sauce over the cooked shells and stir to combine. Carry the entire bowl, a spoon, and a bottle of wine into the living room, where you should already have Buffy on, paused and ready for viewing. Enjoy : )