Al’s Mac & Cheese

Mac & Cheese has always been my #1 comfort food.  It was also one of the first dishes I learned how to make as a kid.  My Mom diligently walked me through all the steps in making a perfect béchamel sauce only to joyfully smother it in heaps of melty cheese.  This was the method for making mac & cheese that her mother (Alberta) taught her.  By the time I came along, Grandma Al was well into her health food phase of life, and my memories of her cooking consisted primarily of sprouts grown under her sink and buckwheat pancakes.  Ironically my mother, who happened to be the one to introduced Grandma Al to healthy eating, went on to introduce her own daughter to several of Grandma Al’s recipes (staples from her own childhood) including her recipe for Mac & Cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of Pasta (I do not always use the classic elbow macaroni, sometimes I like to mix things up a bit with other forms of pasta such as shells or even bowties (farfalle))
  • 2 tbsp Butter (for lower fat do 1 tbsp Butter and 1 tbsp Olive Oil)
  • 2 tbsp Flour
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1 cup Cream (for lower fat use milk instead)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 cups of a sharp grated Cheese (Feel free to combine cheeses. I usually use a combo of cheddar and some other cheese – this time I used an aged parmesan.) + 1 cup grated Cheese (for topping)
  • 1 cup Bread Crumbs

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees if you are baking your Mac & Cheese.
  2. Cook and drain the pasta.
  3. In a sauce pan on medium heat melt the butter.
  4. Add the flour.
  5. Gradually whisk in the milk and cream.
  6. Continue to whisk until the sauce begins to thicken.  This can take about 10-12 minutes.  Be patient.
  7. Continue to whisk the sauce for a few more minutes until the sauce attains a thick and creamy consistency.
  8. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.
  9. Remove the sauce from the heat.
  10. Add the two cups of cheese.  You want the sauce to be hot enough to melt all of the cheese, but not boiling hot or the cheese will curdle.
  11. Combined the cheese sauce with the pasta.  You can serve to as it is now, or you can proceed to making a baked Mac & Cheese.
  12. To make a baked Mac & Cheese pour the cheese sauce coated pasta into a well greased baking dish.
  13. Evenly sprinkle the top of the casserole with the remaining cup of cheese and bread crumbs.
  14. Bake the Mac & Cheese in the oven for about 35-40 minutes, or until it is golden on top while still being creamy underneath.

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