So good, if we weren't already married, my husband would marry me for it.
Like pretty much all of America, I grew up on the Kraft "Blue Box" Mac 'n' Cheese. My first taste of the homemade stuff was when my brother attempted to make some while I was in high school. I not sure what happened, but it was notthe best, shall we say. I retrospect, I think it needed salt.
Years later, I came across this recipe in Real Simple Magazine and thought I'd give it ago, but I was a little put off by the called for 6 cups (!) of milk, and using the full quarter cup of oil on the bread make my crackers waaaay too greasy, so I did a few mild changes, as listed below.
And its really good. This is maybe one of Mr. Cleaver's favorite things I cook, and every so often (as with the Cherry Pie), he'll just "happen" to the buy the ingredients and if I just "happen" to want to make it, it would "happen" to be swell. I love it too, so it's not too hard to convince me.
Mac 'n' Cheese, adapted from Real Simple, Nov. 200.
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter (plus some to grease dish)
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 3-4 cups whole or low-fat milk (I use 1% it turns out plenty rich and creamy)
- 14 oz.-16oz. cheese of choice (I like cheddar or you could do a mix.)
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 cup or about ½ a sleeve of your favorite butter crackers (Ritz, Keebler Club) smashed
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- oregano and thyme to taste
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
Heat oven to 400°F and grease a 9x13 baking dish.
Cook the macaroni for slightly less time than the package says, so it's still a little firm. Drain and rinse.
While the mac is boiling, combine cracker crumbs, oil, herbs, salt and pepper. The oil should be just enough to coat and make the crumbs slightly stick together.
In a saucepan, melt butter. While whisking constantly, add the flour and cook for about 3 minutes. The mixture will clump. Still stirring, add the milk and cook for another 7 minutes, the mixture will start to get thick. Add the cheese and salt and stir until all the cheese is evenly melted.
Mix together the mac and the cheese, pour into the prepared dish and sprinkle with the crumbs.
Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden and delicious.
It'll sit like the brick of cheese and pasta it is in your stomach, but it'll be so worth it.
Reheats really well in the oven too!