According to the National Weather Service, we’re going to get one. A gale, snowstorm, weather bomb, blizzard – all those things that keep Mainers inside for the duration – hopefully. As I mention in my most recent post, employers need to give their employees a break and let them stay home tomorrow.
There are some beautiful sites during a blizzard, made more so if you don’t need to be out in one. Frankly there’s a kind of holiday feeling to the whole weather warning thing. It makes me feel about like an 8 year old on Christmas Eve ……… after I knew Mom and Dad were Santa and before they started giving me one “big” present for Christmas AND my birthday.
My kid, otherwise known as a 36 year old adult male, is on his way to the gas station for emergency pop and milk supplies, among a few other things. Once there’s milk in the house, that means there is potential macaroni and cheese. Potential macaroni and cheese is delicious. Here’s how I do it –
You need a box of elbow macaroni and I prefer De Cecco pasta – it’s not as paste-like as other brands. Turn the oven on to 400 degrees.
Two cups of shredded sharp cheddar. Mild cheddar won’t do in this recipe. There’s just not enough flavor to kick it up to delicious. I prefer Cabot’s Extra Sharp Cheddar. I prefer Cabot’s anything.
2 cups of milk – you can get by with 1.5 cups or even a can of evaporated milk – you just can’t make this without any milk.
1/4 cup of butter. The real stuff, not imitation.
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp salt, pepper and chili powder. Yes, chili powder
1/2 tsp dry mustard
Additional butter, panko bread crumbs and parmesan
Put the water on for the pasta – I always add a palm full of salt to the water. Put the lid on the pan – it boils faster.
Melt the butter, dry mustard, pepper and salt in a saucepan. I usually microwave my milk to get it hot so do that now.
After the butter is melted, add the flour and stir well, cooking the mixture for at least 1 full minute. This keeps the sauce from tasting like flour.
Slowly add in the milk, stirring all the while, and you can put in your 1 tsp of chili powder now. Laurel, of Laurel’s Kitchen fame, noted in their cookbook that chili makes cheddar more cheddar-like and it does. Nobody will even know it’s in there.
Once the sauce is nice and thick, remove it from the heat and put in the 2 cups of shredded cheddar. Slap a lid on the pan and let it sit. Now go get your largest baking dish.
I have an oval French White 3.5 quart baking dish from Corning Ware that’s perfect for this amount of mac and cheese.
At this point I cut up another 1/4 cup of butter into tiny chunks. This is for the top of the casserole. I like to use panko bread crumbs on top of mine and sometimes sprinkled with a healthy serving of parmesan. Yum.
Once you’ve cooked your pasta – I can spot done pasta by the color – sometimes I have to taste it, but not often. I then put the pasta in the baking dish and pour the cheese sauce all over it. I may stir the cheese sauce or just let globs of cheese settle where they want. Whatever you do, it will be good.
On go the panko and the butter and parmesan. I slip this (while wearing a back brace because that baking dish is HEAVY) into the oven for 15 minutes. Everything is cooked and hot, I’m just getting the crumbs golden brown at this point.
Remove from oven and get out of the way – your family will run over you getting to it. Don’t expect leftovers ………….