- Watch video.
- Then read text below it.
- Listen and read at the same time. Repeat.
- Watch video again without text.
Does your mom make the very best macaroni and cheese you’ve ever tasted? I thought mine did until I tasted our macaroni and cheese 101. At the magazine, we tried maybe 35 or so recipes, before we came up with what we voted on was the warmest, the richest, the most deliciously cheesy macaroni and cheese any of us had ever tasted.
Macaroni and cheese has been around a very long time. Legend has it that Thomas Jefferson, a known lover of food, brought a macaroni machine back from a trip to Italy, and he would serve macaroni and cheese at dinner parties. Centuries later in 1937 to be exact, Kraft introduced macaroni and cheese dinners in that familiar blue box to the market place, making it one of America’s favorite comfort foods. And macaroni and cheese 101 is one of mine too.
And I’ll show you how to make the one that we just think is so good.
In a little sauce pan, melt 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter. And here are six slices of white bread that had been just de-crusted and torn into little pieces. Just drizzle the butter over that bread. This is the bread crumb topping for the final dish. And just toss the butter with the bread, and just set it aside.
Meanwhile in a heavy-bottom sauce pan, like this one, melt six tablespoons of butter. And in another pot bring to a boil five and a half cups of whole milk. And this has already come to a boil. It is actually forming a little skin on top, which is fine. Just stir that up. And in this butter, that’s melted stir in a half a cup of all-purpose flour. We want to cook flour and butter and then add the milk. That’s called in French a béchamel sauce. Don’t burn the butter and the flour. Make sure you just cook the flour, so adjust your heat if necessary. By the way, also, have a big pot of water boiling, and put in your macaroni. And you’re going to cook one whole pound of macaroni in lightly salted water. And you’re going to cook it for about three to four minutes less than the box tells you, because you want it a little bit al dente, a little hard to the tooth. So, let’s just cook that, and I’m going to add just a little bit of salt.
Now here our béchamel base is cooking. And now, stir in very slowly your boiling milk. You’re going to keep stirring. You do not want lumpy béchamel. And I’m going to transfer from a wooden spoon to whisk. Nice and thick. Now you can raise your heat a little bit and start cooking this. A lot of milk, but we’re going to make a big macaroni and cheese. It’s already pretty smooth. But we’re going to cook and cook until this starts to thicken. It’s going to bubble and then become thick all of a sudden.
I’m just tasting our macaroni and it tastes done. And it had better be poured right into a colander in the sink. One way to avoid a lot of steam if you don’t want a facial is to run the cold water – not on the pasta but next to the colander. It keeps down the steam a little bit. And shake out the water.
And I have to watch my béchamel. See how nice and thick it’s becoming? Once it’s thick, just remove it from the heat, and then we’re going to add a half a teaspoon of salt, a quarter of a teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg. And it’s really nice to grate your own nutmeg. It smells so good. Nutmeg is very important, I think, in macaroni and cheese. And don’t forget cayenne pepper. This is something my mom did add to her macaroni and cheese. A quarter of a teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Mom added at least that much. None of us liked tremendously spicy food, but we liked the taste of cayenne pepper. And we also love the taste of black pepper. And add a quarter of a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper too.
And now into the béchamel add your cheese: three cups of cheddar cheese and one and a half cups of gruyere cheese. And now you can just add your macaroni. Make sure you coat all your macaroni with the béchamel. We’ll pour this into our dish.
You can avoid the topping, if you like, and just put this into the oven, but the topping with the wonderful bread crumb crustiness is something that if you haven’t try it, you should try at least once. You’ll love it.
So now, we are going to sprinkle with the gruyere and the cheddar, an even layer of both. Now, you can put this in the freezer. And wrap it really well. And have it for parties. It’s just a real old-fashioned and very homey buffet. This is the bread crumb topping. And make sure your oven is preheated to 375ᵒ.
So, we are ready to get that right into the oven. Now, we’re going to bake it in the oven until it’s browned on the top for about 45 to 60 minutes.
And here is our really beautiful bubbling macaroni and cheese. It’s really important to let this sit for five minutes or so. It’s still piping hot, but it’s not going to burn you. And take as much as you like.
Now you don’t have to do this, but my mother gave us a little dollop of ice cold sour cream on top of our macaroni and cheese, so I’m going to have it that way.
I’m going to let you know how it tastes. Macaroni and cheese 101. Something that everyone’s going to love. Pretty good with that sour cream.