Baked Macaroni & Cheese
This rendition of the timeless classic comfort food – macaroni and cheese – looks like it has a lot of steps to follow. But, they really simple and after you've made it once, they will be easier to follow or not needed at all. And, you can always make your own variations. This is a good basic recipe adapted from what's fast becoming my favorite all purpose cookbook. (Hint, if you have been paying attention to previous posts, you already know its title.)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 1 ½ quart deep baking dish
- Boil 6 C of water and 1 ½ tsp salt in medium saucepan
- Grate to have ready: 2 ¼ C grated sharp Cheddar or Colby cheese (extra is cheesier!)
- Add 2 C elbow macaroni (8 ounces) and cook until tender. Drain and place in a large bowl
- Melt 2 tbsp butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat
- Whisk in 2 tbsp all-purpose flour and cook, whisking for 3 minutes
- Gradually whisk in 2 C whole or low-fat milk
- Stir in:
½ diced medium onion
1 bay leaf
½ tsp sweet or smoked paprika
- Simmer gently for 15 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and stir in 2/3 of the cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the macaroni. Pour half of the mixture into the baking dish and sprinkle with half of the remaining cheese. Top with the remaining macaroni and then the remaining cheese.
- Melt 1 tbsp butter in a small skillet over medium heat, then add ½ C breadcrumbs and toss to coat. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top of macaroni.
Bake about 30 minutes or until breadcrumbs are lightly browned. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Note: The sauce can be made ahead and blended with just cooked macaroni before baking, or the entire casserole can be assembled a day ahead.
4 to 6 main course servings; 8 to 10 side dish servings (dependent on serving size)