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Baked Macaroni & Four Cheeses

August 9, 2011

Do you remember last week how I mentioned that some macaroni & cheese recipes take a lot of time to put together? And that some tend not to be the healthiest? Well turns out I had one particular recipe in mind, and sadly, it’s my favorite. It seemed wrong to let macaroni & cheese week go by and not share what I consider to be the ultimate, not to mention quintessential, baked mac & cheese recipe.

Unfortunately I do not have any pictures to share; I didn’t think it was in the best interest of my family’s health to make 4 macaroni and cheese casseroles in one week. I promise to come back and add pictures when I make it next, which I am sure will be soon because my stomach is rumbling just thinking about it…

Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Yields: 6-8 Servings

12 ounces Elbow macaroni
6 tablespoons Unsalted butter
3 tablespoons All purpose flour
3 cups Milk (hot, but not boiling; I’ve used skim milk without problems)
1 Bay leaf
Salt (to taste)
Freshly ground pepper (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon Paprika
2 teaspoons Dry mustard
12 ounces Sharp Cheddar cheese (shredded)
6 ounces Mild white meltable cheese (such as Jack or Gouda, shredded)
3 ounces Sharp blue cheese (crumbled)
1 cup Dry bread crumbs
1 tablespoon Olive oil
1/2 cup Onion (finely chopped)
1 Garlic clove (chopped)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (freshly grated)

1. Cook the pasta in a pot of rapidly boiling salted water until not quite tender, just shy of al dente. Drain and set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 375F.
3. Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in heavy nonstick sauce pan and sprinkle with the flour. Cook for a minute or two, then stir with a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat and add the milk all at once, along with the bay leaf. Cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until the sauce thickens, about 5-7 minutes. If there are any lumps remove the bay leaf and whisk with a wire whisk. Remove from the heat and season with the salt and pepper, paprika, and dry mustard.
4. Reserve 3 to 4 tablespoons of the Cheddar and mild white cheese. Remove the bay leaf from the sauce, if you haven’t already, then stir in the remaining Cheddar, mild white cheese, and blue cheese and set aside.
5. In a small frying pan, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of the butter and combine it with the breadcrumbs. Remove from pan to small bowl and set aside.
6. Using the same frying pan, heat olive oil. Add onions and garlic and cook just until soft. Remove from heat and set aside.
7. In a bottom of a 1 1/2-quart baking dish with 4-inch side, sprinkle 1 or 2 tablespoons of the reserved cheese. Add the onion and garlic to the cheese sauce.
8. Layer a third of the macaroni in the bottom of the pan, top with a third of the cheese sauce, and repeat the layers two more times, ending with the cheese sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining shredded cheeses, then with the Parmesan cheese, and finally the breadcrumbs. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is crispy and browned in spots. Serve warm.

Kate’s Thoughts

This is my absolute go to recipe for the real deal mac & cheese, so the recipe has already been adapted from it’s original version to what I think, and hope, is perfection! The combination of four cheeses is absolutely unreal and comes together in complete baked deliciousness.

I promise to work on pictures, but in the mean time hopefully the recipe alone will spark your curiosity and you will give it a try!

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