Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

When I was young, my mother used to save the bread heels from each loaf. After collecting a bagful, we would go feed the ducks at one of the local ponds. This recipe, adapted from Mark Bittman's in How to Cook Everything, is another use for all those heels of bread, especially since I don't live near a duck pond anymore.

  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 lb small macaroni (I used elbow)
  • 4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) butter (1 Tbsp for greasing, 3 Tbsp for the roux)
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2-3 heels of bread, ripped up into small pieces

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Use about 1 Tbsp butter to grease a 13x9 pan. Set aside.
  3. Bring large pot of water to a boil. As water boils, salt well and add pasta. When pasta needs one or two more minutes until it's complete, drain, rinse in cold water to stop cooking, and return to pot.
  4. While pasta is cooking, cook the milk with the bay leaves in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. When small bubbles appear around the sides, about 8-10 minutes later, turn off heat and pour into separate (glass or ceramic) bowl to let stand.
  5. Return the empty saucepan to the stovetop over medium-low heat. Melt 3 Tbsp butter and when it is foamy, add the flour and cook, stirring with a whisk or fork until the mixture browns, about 5 minutes.
  6. Remove the bay leaves from the milk and pour a large splash (about 1/4 cup) into the flour mixture, stirring with the whisk until the milk is incorporated. As soon as the mixture is smooth, add a little more milk and whisk, continuing this until milk is used up.
  7. Add the cheddar and stir.
  8. Pour the sauce over the noodles. Sprinkle the parmesan over top and stir. Season with salt and pepper.
  9. Turn the noodles into the 13x9 pan and top with bread crumbs.
  10. Bake until the bread crumbs turn brown, about 15-20 minutes.

This was really good, although I could have salted and peppered it more. I think it could have worked as a creamy dish (stopping after Step 8) if you wanted a homemade version of a boxed macaroni and cheese. I wonder what this would taste like with a leafy green baked into it.

What are some of your favorite alterations to macaroni and cheese?

1 comment:

  1. I love adding bacon to my macaroni and cheese (especially now that I live in the South!). I've never really been a fan of adding the bread crumbs to the mix, but your version sounds good. I always think about adding something green in, but never remember when I'm actually doing it. I can't wait to try your version here, though!