Friday, May 25, 2012

The BEST Macaroni and Cheese

Mac and Cheese, ready to bake.

Few dishes conjure up the universal rapture of mac and cheese, particularly for the minimal cost and effort it involves.   It's a sure fire crowd pleaser for kids, adults, vegetarians, and omnivores of all types.  It is economical, and is  great do-ahead option as it can sit in the fridge for a couple days before using or in the freezer for a couple of months.  I can be counted on most summer weekends to deliver a mammoth sized trough of this to the beach, and it is always a welcome addition to the inventory--kids often eat the leftovers (if there are any) for breakfast.  If you use  high protein noodles you have a pretty nutritious meal without meat, and even picky pasta palates won't recognize the subterfuge when the noodles are bathed in cheese.

Perfect Mac and Cheese

Serves 6

1 box pasta--Penne, rotelle, farfalle medium shells, elbows, or any short pasta shape.
1/2 lb Cooper Sharp cheese (available at the deli counter)
1/2 lb Super Sharp Cheddar cheese (also from deli counter)
1 1/3 cup milk
1/2 stick butter
Wondra flour as needed--approx 1/4 cup  (for thickening)
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs, panko, or crushed Cheese-it/goldfish crackers  (optional, for topping)
1/2 cup grated cheese (optional, for topping)
salt/pepper/garlic powder to taste

Cook shells according to package directions til al dente (usally one minute less than they recommend on the box.)

Meanwhile, in a separate pan, melt butter, milk and cheese together over low heat, stirring frequently. When totally melted, sprinkle Wondra flour into sauce, whisking constantly til creamy and slightly thickened.  Drain pasta, pour into greased 13x9 rectangular pan and pour sauce over pasta. Mix well. Top with bread crumbs and grated cheese if desired. Bake 30 minutes at 350 til top begins to crisp, or cover and place in fridge or freezer til needed.  Enjoy.

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