Thursday, September 18, 2008

Macaroni and Cheese with Eggs, Milk, Onion

This recipe is currently undergoing some changes. Please re-visit.

The beauty and ease of this mac-and-cheese is that there is no Bechamel sauce!

Here's one without the tomato. A little sour cream never hurt.

This old-fashioned macaroni and cheese is a "craft" made with a simple custard of milk and eggs. It’s a wonderful side for meatloaf or ham and good on its own with a simple salad and bread. I’ve used many different cheeses and have settled on the combination of soft Fontina (or Fontinella) and aged, sharp Cheddar, white or yellow (don't be afraid to add any cheese leftovers you might have on hand, especially some Mozzarella). But cheese has gotten so expensive that I now use Muenster and Cheddar and I really love the taste that the Muenster brings. Overall, I use about 2.5- just under three cups of cheese.

Use a variety of cheeses, if possible. Here, the tomatoes have been peeled
after being dunked in boiling water for about 20 seconds.

You don't have to top with the tomatoes, but it's a nice touch and it's something my grandmother would have done, especially in the summer months when tomatoes are in season.

It's a shame that so many generations have grown up thinking mac-n-cheese is something poured out of a blue box. Where's the "craft" in "Kraft?"

  • 1 cup small, raw elbow macaroni (about 4 oz.)
  • 8 oz. American or Velveeta Chesse
  • 4 oz. grated sharp Cheddar
  • Grated Parmesan, about 4 oz. and more for topping
  • 1/2 stick butter, softened to room temperature, divided
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 1 can evaporated milk 
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or whipped cottage cheese or a combination
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 4-6 drops Tabasco 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • A few sprinkles garlic powder
  • Several grates of fresh nutmeg, less is more
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 good teaspoon regular black pepper (or to taste)
  • 3 tablespoons grated onion (red or yellow) or 1.5 - 2 tablespoons dried minced onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional, but I love it) 
  • 6 drops Worcestershire sauce or to taste (less is more)
  • Bacon Fat

  • 3-4 Roma tomatoes, skinned cut into 1/2-inch slices (optional)
  • Bread crumbs. I prefer fresh but Panko works, too.
  • Dried, Italian seasoning, a few shakes
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan
  • 1-2 tablespoons melted butter or use olive oil, just enough to moisten crumbs

Butter or spray a 1.5 quart glass baking dish or an 8 x 8-inch baking dish or a 6 x 10-inch baking dish.

Bring a  pot of water to a rolling boil. Using a slotted spoon, drop in the tomatoes one at a time for about 20 seconds. Remove and run under cold water. Remove the skin. When all the tomatoes are skinned, bring water back to a boil and parboil macaroni in salted water. Drain. Add butter. Stir. Allow to cool a bit.

Over a small bowl, scrape a peeled onion over the large holes of a box grater until you have three to four tablespoons or, if using, add dried onion flakes.  Stir in evaporated milk. Whisk in the egg, Tabasco or Cayenne, salt, dry mustard and, if using, smoked paprika.

Pour milk/egg mixture over cooled pasta. Mix.

Gently stir in the cheeses until well-combined. Transfer mixture to buttered baking dish.

If using, slice the tomatoes and arrange on top and, if using, sprinkle with some Italian  seasonings. Sprinkle with Parmesan or extra cheese and then sprinkle with a bit more smoked paprika or regular paprika.

Mix together the fresh breadcrumbs with the Parmesan. Add melted butter and mix. Sprinkle over the tomatoes or tomato-less top. (Sometimes I just omit the breadcrumbs when I use the tomatoes and then top with more cheese.)

Here, I omitted the breadcrumbs and just used more cheese. I
also sprinkled the tomatoes with just a bit of Italian seasonings.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes until the sides begin to bubble and the breadcrumbs are nice and brown.


 This one has no tomato or breadcrumbs, just a bit of extra cheese on top. I used 8 ounces

To serve, place a generous portion on plate and lightly sprinkle with sea salt or Kosher salt and and a dollop of sour cream on the side or on top.

A Note on Breadcrumbs: I'm not a fan of dried breadcrumbs. To make fresh, just cut the crusts off several pieces of a good hearty bread, tear into pieces and place in a small food processor. Whirl until fresh breadcrumbs form OR just cut the bread into small cubes. Fresh makes all the difference.

Update: I use the pressure cooker to do the pasta .... done in four minutes. Allow to cool.


Anonymous said...

So, are you trying to kill me? Jeez, I just got my cholesterol down low enough to come off medication and now this.
I'm pretty sure I can smell it right now. Damn it!
Hey, you didn't answer my email!!!

Unknown said...

My Mom use to make Mac n' cheese but the recipe disappeared when she died. This sound like what she had and I cannot wait to make it for my grandkids!!

Unknown said...

Oh, I save the hard crust of homemade bread and freeze them to make bread crumbs. Easy as pie after a whirl in my small processor!

Anonymous said...

Couldnt agree more with that, very attractive article

Anonymous said...
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