Saturday, May 23, 2015

Mary Gordon's Golden Mac' N Cheese

 Mary Gordon's Golden Mac' N Cheese

The New England Cookbook
By Brooke Dojny

If you asked me what was my favorite cookbook, it would be this one. I bought this one when I was in college and have always enjoyed reading it. I love how there's a little story giving the history of the recipe. Having lived in New England for several years, I enjoyed relating the recipes personally by either visiting the town associated with the recipe or even at times, knowing the person who submitted the recipe. Not only is this my favorite cookbook, it is my most used cookbook. I have used this cookbook so many times that is actually has started to fall apart.

My son loves macaroni and cheese and I love making macaroni and cheese from scratch. So when he had to bring lunch to school, I had to make him his favorite lunch.
I always enjoy trying different recipes and variations of mac & cheese. However, my five-year-old son likes old-fashioned traditional macaroni and cheese. So the search began for the perfect recipe. Going through all my books, everything I found was some kind of gourmet version of mac & cheese or called for Velveeta. Call me a food snob but I prefer cooking with a block of cheese and grating it myself. That is what makes the dish a comfort food, in my opinion.
I had been unsuccessful in finding an old-fashioned traditional mac & cheese recipe in my cookbooks. Finally, I looked in the New England Cookbook and found this one. Don't be thrown off by the tempering of the egg. This is what gives this dish it's thick and luscious sauce.

8 ounces elbow macaroni or other small tubular pasta
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup minced onion
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard 2 1/2 cups whole, low-fat, or skim milk
1 egg
3 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon paprika

Cook the macaroni and large pot of boiling salted water until still slightly firm, about six minutes. Drain in a colander and transfer to a buttered 2 quart baking dish. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a sauce pan. Add the onion and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until soft, about five minutes. Add the flour and mustard and cook, stirring, for two minutes. Whisk in the milk, bring to a boil, and cook, whisking, for about two minutes, until smooth, second, and bubbly. In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg. Slowly whisk about half of the hot white sauce into the age to temper it; then whisk the egg mixture into the remaining sauce. Off heat or the lowest heat, add 3 cups of the cheese, by handfuls, stirring after each addition until cheese is melted. Season with the black pepper, cayenne, salt to taste. (The sauce should be salty enough to balance the pasta. It will depend on the saltiness of the cheese.) Pour the sauce over the cooked macaroni, stirring gently to combine.

 Preheat the oven to 350°. In a small dish, toss the breadcrumbs with the remaining 1/2 cup of grated cheese and the paprika. Sprinkle over the macaroni. (The casserole can be made several hours ahead to this point. Cover with foil and refrigerate.) bake the casserole, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown in the sauce is bubbly. If the casserole has been refrigerated, cover, with oil for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, and until golden on top and heated through.

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