Something about major snowstorms make me reminiscent of childhood. All in all, the blizzard of 2013 turned out to be not much more than a pleasant weekend inside. We had full power the whole time, a toasty home (thanks to our wood stove), and a great chance to enjoy some time together sipping hot chocolate and baking some of our favorite dishes over some nice wine.
Something about the snow made me think back ten years to the last true blizzard this area saw, in 2003. I hadn't met Jon yet, but I still spent that storm doing much the same thing I did this time around: cooking up something good. This recipe, for baked macaroni with white cheddar cheese, was actually first created during that storm.
While I was considerably tighter on a budget back then, the low cost of these ingredients doesn't sacrifice anything for the taste. Your best investment will be in a nice sharp cheddar cheese. While it doesn't have to be ripened in a scottish cave for 20 years, make sure the cheese that you do buy is extra sharp.
In order to create the cheesy sauce, I start by making a roux. This simple technique adds heavy thickness and creaminess without forcing you to rely on cream, which might make the dish a bit too rich. Once the milk is added to the roux and allowed to thicken, the cheese melts in perfectly, resulting in a beautifully delicious, gooey, creamy sauce that will coat every piece of pasta with incredible flavor and soul warming goodness.
The secret ingredient to this dish is some high quality dijon mustard. The mustard flavor pairs perfectly with the sharp cheddar and creamy sauce to add depth and character to the dish. Also, it's sitting around almost everybody's fridge, so why not use it in a novel way?
Finally, to top everything off, a sprinkling of breadcrumbs, right before baking. This gives some texture, a nice crunch to the macaroni, as well as some added flavor.
You absolutely will not be disappointed in this! It is an excellent alternative to anything you might find in a box, pretty much just as easy to make, and a million times better. We serve ours in individual ramekins, but this can just as easily be baked in a casserole dish if you would like to keep this simpler. Try to let it cool off before you dig in!
Recipe: Baked Macaroni & White Cheddar Cheese
- 1, 16 oz bag egg noodles (you may use egg white noodles if you prefer).
- 1, 8 oz block of sharp-white cheddar cheese (you can use shredded if you prefer.
- 1 stick salted butter.
- 3 C whole milk.
- 1/4 C flour.
- 1/4 C dijon mustard (high quality such as Grey Poupon.
- 1 C breadcrumbs (Panko style, italian).
- 1.5 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. pepper
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Bring stock pot full of water to a boil over high heat.
- In a saucepan, melt butter until its slowly bubbling. Add flour, a sprinkle at a time while stirring fast to prevent any clumping. When all of the flour is added the mixture will start to brown, continue stirring until golden. I find that using an egg beater for this step works great.
- Slowly pour in milk, and dijon mustard and continue stirring over medium heat until mixture thickens, add cheese and set heat to low. Stir until the cheese is melted.
- Boil noodles until al dente according to package directions, strain.
- Combine noodles and sauce in a bowl until combined.
- Prepare baking dish for the macaroni and cheese by buttering the bottom and sides. We use ramekins but you can use a casserole dish or anything you prefer.
- Liberally cover all of the macaroni and cheese with breadcrumbs.
- Bake for 30 - 45 minutes until breadcrumbs brown. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Enjoy!