Thursday, September 18, 2008

Macaroni and Cheese with Eggs, Milk, Onion

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

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 raw elbow macaroni
  • 8 oz. grated Fontina or Muenster (I use a mixture)
  • 8 oz. grated sharp Cheddar
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk (one 5-oz. can)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco or a few shakes Cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 3 tablespoons grated onion (red or yellow)
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional, but I love it) 

  • 3-4 Roma tomatoes, skinned cut into 1/2-inch slices (optional)
  • Fresh bread crumbs* optional
  • Dried, Italian seasoning (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan (optional)
  • 1-2 tablespoons melted butter (optional)

Butter or spray a 1.5 quart glass baking dish or 8 x 8 baking dish. Bring a large pot of water to 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. Allow to cool a bit.

Scrape a peeled onion over the large holes of a box grater. Stir in evaporated milk. Whisk in the egg, Whisk together egg, , Tabasco or Cayenne, salt, pepper, dry mustard and smoked paprika.

Pour over cooled pasta. Mix. Gently stir in the cheeses until well-combined. Transfer mixture to baking dish.

Adjust Tabasco to your taste, but don't omit.

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.


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.

Notes: This is not a "creamy" macaroni and leftovers "slice" easily. No, I have never tried Velveeta cheese.