Mac & Cheese without a mortgage

Gee, I sure to seem to be on a health kick: the last week shows cookies, eggs, butter, cream, bacon, and now cheese. Plus, I had these bacon-ginger cookies for dessert last night. Really, I do eat vegetables.

I’m all for how the schmancy macaroni and cheese recipes taste, with fourteen artisanal cheeses, pasta handmade by someone’s second cousin’s great-aunt in Italy and flown to the US on a private jet with the proper ventilation, salt from the rockiest shores of Brittany, and butter from sacred cows in India, but sometimes I don’t really feel macaroni and cheese should require taking out a second mortgage.

I found those 2-pound blocks of Tillamook cheese on sale at Ballard Market for $5 last weekend and sort of went wild. Well, wild for me. I bought three.

Creamy Mac & Cheese

Recipe for Creamy Orange Mac & Cheese
Recipe 115 of 365

Here’s a homemade version of those big, creamy, mild Velveeta shells, minus the unpronounceable ingredients that make Velveeta feel like plastic in your mouth. I used the mild orange-colored medium cheddar usually available on the west coast, but you can substitute any meltable cheese – Gruyere, Swiss, sharp cheddar, Monterey jack, or something stronger like Comte would all be great, as would adding chopped cooked vegetables, chicken, etc. Because there’s no baking step involved, this homemade mac is a little quicker to make than some.

And OOOHHHHhhhh is it good the next day, straight out of the fridge.

TIME: 20 minutes
MAKES: 4 to 6 side dish servings

1/2 pound large macaroni elbows
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups milk, warmed
4 packed cups grated cheddar cheese (8 ounces, grated)

Cook the pasta until al dente according to package directions. Prep all the ingredients while the water comes to a boil.

As soon as you put the pasta in, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and the bubbles begin to subside, add the flour, and cook, stirring continuously with a whisk, for 1 minute. Add about a 1/4 cup of the milk and whisk until the mixture forms a paste. Add the remaining milk, whisk until smooth, and cook the mixture, stirring often, until it comes to a simmer and thickens a bit. Remove from the heat and let sit until the bubbles subside completely. Add the cheese a little at a time, whisking until smooth between each addition.

When the pasta is done, drain and return it to the pan. Add the cheese sauce, stir to combine the pasta with the sauce, transfer the mac and cheese to a serving bowl, and serve immediately.

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Filed under Lunch, Pasta, recipe

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