Thursday, March 17, 2011

Famous Macaroni and Cheese

One of my favorite dishes to eat and cook is macaroni and cheese.  Anytime I go to a restaurant, if it's on the menu I am definitely ordering it.  What most people don't know is that delicious mac and cheese is very easy to make at home, without any powdered cheese packets.  This is my recipe for mac and cheese and I hope you enjoy it!

Classic Macaroni and Cheese

4 slices of bacon
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons butter or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons of flour
1 lb any short cut pasta (I use shells or rigatoni usually, but elbows are classically used)
2 cups of milk (usually recipes recommend to use whole milk, but I use skim and it works out perfectly too)
1 cup sharp yellow cheddar
1/2 cup colby jack
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons breadcrumbs (optional)
2 tsp paprika
1 tbsp parsley
2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

At this point, I usually put a pot of water on the stove to boil while I am making the cheese sauce. 

In a small sauce pan heat 2 tablespoons of oil or butter on medium.  Slice the bacon into strips (lardons in French) and add to the oil.  Then chop the 2 cloves of garlic very small and add to the pan with the bacon.  Let bacon and garlic saute together until bacon begins to turn brown.  Then add 2 tablespoons of flour and begin to whisk.  A paste will begin to form, this is called a roux and is the beginning of most creamy sauces as a source of thickening.  Allow the roux to cook for 1-2 minutes to cook the raw flour taste out.  Then slowly add your milk while whisking and lower the heat to low.  Once you whisk in all of the milk so that the roux and milk have become one mixture you can turn the heat up to med-high.  Allow the sauce to thicken for about 5-10 minutes while stirring every so often. 

By now the water should be boiling.  Add a hand ful of salt to the water and then add the lb. of pasta and stir. 

Once the sauce has thickened add in your three cheeses.  I use cheddar for color, colby jack for flavor, and mozzarella for texture.  Reserve 1 cup of the combination of cheeses for the top.  Then add your parmesan cheese which I use for a salty factor.  Stir until all the cheese has melted.  Then add in your spices and taste the mixture.  It might need a touch more salt to just add it to your taste. 

Once the pasta is done cooking, about 8-10 minutes, drain the pasta and put into a greased baking dish.  Add the sauce on top and stir around to evenly coat each noodle.  Add extra cheese and breadcrumb on top and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. 

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