Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Mac and Cheese...The Ultimate Comfort Food

This is definitely NOT low carb. But sometimes one just has to indulge. There is nothing better, as far as I am concerned, when all the world seems to have gone to hell in a hand basket, than piping hot homemade mac and cheese. The stuff from the box is just pathetic when compared to the real stuff. When I was growing up my mom would make mac and cheese as a side dish to go with baked fish, usually perch or cod, and I really looked forward to the mac and cheese. The next day I would even eat it cold right out of the fridge. You certainly can't do that with the boxed mac and cheese. Now, I have to admit that for convenience sake I would use the boxed kind for my kids and to make into casseroles. But these days, I don't even buy the stuff. And you really have to love the versatility of mac and cheese. You can use just about any type of cheese, add meats, make it cheap or expensive. It's just a great dish to have in your repetoire. And so here's my version.

Mac and Cheese

8 oz. any short pasta cooked to just shy of al dente I used rotini
4 TBS. butter
4 TBS. flour
2 cups milk
4 oz. sharp cheddar grated
4 oz. Velveeta cubed
4 slices Swiss (I was adding ham so I thought "why not some Swiss." I had some for sandwiches)
1 tsp. dry mustard
dash of hot pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 cups cubed ham
1 cup dry bread crumbs
3 TBS. melted butter
a palm full of smoked paprika

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 2 quart casserole dish with Pam. Melt butter in a large saucepan. Whisk in flour and let cook for 3 or 4 minutes. Add the milk, whisking to break down any lumps. Stir constantly until the sauce thickens. I usually do this over a medium heat. Don't be tempted to increase the heat or you run the risk of scorching the milk. Once the sauce has thickened stir in the salt, pepper, pepper flakes, and mustard. Then stir in the cheese. Turn heat to low and keep stirring until all the cheese has melted. Remove from heat. Mix the cheese sauce, pasta and cheese together either in a large bowl or, if your casserole dish is big enough, you can mix it together in that.

Now, for a crunchy topping! At Christmas, I bought loaves of French bread that I let set out to get stale. Then I cubed them and let them get even more stale. I used this for my stuffing and froze what was left. I pulled outt enough to make a cup of bread crumbs and pulsed the cubed bread in my processer. I then added the melted butter and paprika and sprinkled it over the mac and cheese. Bake for 30 minutes until bubbly. Mmm, mmm, mmm. Comfort food! Enjoy!

1 comment:

Phil said...

Yep....this is good stuff..."stick to your ribs" comfort food!

Phil (the hubby)