Gay Cook’s old fashioned macaroni and cheese

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Makes 4 to 6 servings

“It’s got kick and it’s homey, like home”, this was my late sister Jean Pigott’s comment each time we made it for her where she was living with her husband Arthur the last years of her life.

I will never forget the day my children informed me that my macaroni was “yucky” compared to the packaged one. It hurt me then but now we have a great laugh about it. The key to this dish is not to overcook the macaroni — cook “al dente” or just until it still has a “bite”.

Be sure to remove the sauce from the heat when adding the cheese to prevent it becoming rubbery and uneatable. Chopped ham or cooked vegetables are a great addition to this dish and beer is the perfect beverage for the adult who is enjoying this childhood favorite.

1 quart (L) water 1 1/2 L
1 cup (250 mL) uncooked macaroni
2 teaspoons (10 mL) salt
1 tbsp (15 mL) butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp (15 mL)
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) milk
1½ cups (375 mL) grated medium cheddar, part blue or feta cheese
1 tsp (5 mL) hot pepper sauce or to taste
1 tsp (5 mL) salt or to taste
1/2 cup (125 mL) fresh bread crumbs or Panko (Japanese crumbs)
2 tsp (10 mL) melted butterr

1. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Butter 6×10-inch (15×26-cm) shallow casserole.

2. Bring to boil the water and salt; stir in the macaroni. Cook 8 minutes, or just until al dente. Drain in a colander, shaking it to get the water out of the macaroni “tunnels”.

3. In medium saucepan, melt sweat for 5 minutes without browning onions. Stir in flour and cook 1 minute. Raise heat to medium-high, whisk in milk until smooth and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often, until thickened. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the cheese, salt and pepper, then macaroni. Pour mixture into the casserole. Toss the crumbs with melted butter and sprinkle over top.

4. Bake 15 – 20 minutes or until bubbly and golden. The casserole can be covered and chilled up to 1 or 2 days before cooking, adding 10 extra minutes to the cooking time.

Note: To make fresh crumbs, break up 2 bread slices in a food processor or blender and pulse on and off until crumbs form.

If you have any questions about a recipe or other food question, please email: gay@gaycook.com or phone: 613-728-3253