Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Tara's Ultimate: Mac n Cheese


Cheese is love. Is there any dish more comforting than mac n cheese? You'd be hard pressed to find someone to dispute this and even harder pressed to find 5 people who are in love with the same mac n cheese recipe. It seems like there are hundreds out there...some similar, some very different, some with one type of cheese, some with at least 7 types (really though, why complicate one of the most basic comfort foods?), some with veggies, some with tuna, some with meat, some out of a box with cheesy powder, some out of a box with cheesy goop...overall, it really could be considered one of the world's most perfect dishes - dairy, carbs, protein, and veggies if one chooses to add them. What American doesn't love mac n cheese?? (oh and PS - I didn't arrange the cheese in the pic above in the shape of a heart; it just happened to fall that way as I was grating it.)

It's been at least 6 months since I've made my traditional mac n cheese. However, in that time, I did find a recipe for a more sophisticated mac n cheese; one that calls for prosciutto but when I decided to make my favorite version, I didn't feel like spending $20/lb on some extra protein for the meal. I was tempted to try Tyler Florence's Ultimate Mac n Cheese after oddly enough catching that specific show on Food Network yesterday (last week I put mac n cheese on the menu for last night) but decided that since I hadn't made mac n cheese in so long, I wanted to make sure that it was gonna be great - I passed over Tyler's recipe for fear of it being too different and not satisfying our craving for good mac n cheese.

Now, a little background on this recipe...it's not some secret family recipe that has been passed down through the ages. Simply enough, it comes from the back of the Mueller's elbow macaroni box. However, it's the only recipe my mom has used for years and as I was preparing to move out on my own (now nearly 6 years ago), the only thing I asked for was for my mom to write down the recipe. Instead, she cut it off the next box she used and slipped it in my Christmas stocking (I moved right after New Years). Growing up, she used to add tuna fish (canned) and peas to the dish to round it out as a full meal but I stick to the basics. So yes, if you're wondering, I'm still using the exact recipe mom cut out for me (although I do tweak the types of cheese I use depending on what I have in the fridge - see below). When I misplaced the recipe card once a couple of years ago, I cut another one out of the Mueller's elbow macaroni box and believe it or not, it wasn't the same recipe! I about died when I realized that I didn't have the "right" one and immediately got on the phone with my mom for some help. Luckily, the "right" one resurfaced a few months later and I now keep it in a very safe spot. So here's my Ultimate Mac n Cheese....

Mac n Cheese
source: Mueller's elbow macaroni box

  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard (optional
  • 2 1/2 cups milk (I always use skim)
  • 2 tbsp margarine or butter
  • 2 cups (8oz) shredded American or cheddar cheese, divided (this time I used cheddar, fontina, and gouda)
  • 8 oz Mueller's elbow macaroni, cooked 5 minutes and drained (I don't necessarily use Mueller's elbows and usually cook them for closer to 6-7 minutes)
  • 2-3 tbsp ground-up cornflakes (not in the original recipe)
  1. In medium saucepan combine corn starch, salt, dry mustard and pepper; stir in milk.
    Add margarine/butter. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  2. Stir in 1-3/4 cups (425 ml) cheese until melted. Add elbows.
  3. Pour into greased 2-quart casserole. Sprinkle with reserved cheese.
  4. Bake uncovered in 375 degree (200 C.) oven 25 minutes or until lightly browned. I bake for 15 then sprinkle the ground-up corn flakes to the top and continue cooking for 10 minutes.
Prep time: 12 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Serves: 6

2 comments:

Polly said...

Yes yes yes!! Cheese is love! Finally a kindred culinary spirit!

This recipe looks soooooo yummy. I may have to try it very soon....hhmm...Maybe it's time I packed away the pumpkin recipes and moved onto a cheese binge....oh...the possibilities!

Angela said...

Thanks for the great recipe! I made this tonight and it was fantastic. I added a bit more crushed cornflakes, though, for some extra crunch.