Yes, just macaroni and cheese. I always loved baked macaroni and cheese as mom would make, but could never get it right as an adult. She even sent me the recipe, but I could never get the roux right. The flour would burn, or I’d use too little flour and cook it too long, resulting in too little thickening and a sort of macaroni soup.
However, the great Alton Brown has shown me the trick to getting it to come out right. (For those of you who still don’t know, Good Eats is on the Food Network, and is basically what would happen if Bill Nye the Science Guy started a cooking show.) That trick is to temper a beaten egg into the sauce before combining. The egg’s thickening power helps the existing thickening of the roux, and adds no taste difference (as far as I can tell).
Also, for years I had been buying “regular” elbow macaroni. This week “large” elbow macaroni was on sale, so I got it instead, and I will say, I like it. More room for the sauce to get into.
The following is a combination of my mom’s and Good Eats’ versions:
Baked Macaroni And Cheese That Can Be Made By A 20-Something Bachelor In His Hot Second-Story Apartment In The Middle Of Summer, Did I Mention It’s Hot Because It Is
1/2 lb elbow macaroni
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1 tbsp powdered mustard
2 1/2 c milk
1/2 tsp paprika
1 large egg
9 oz shredded cheddar
3 oz shredded cheddar
2 tbsp butter
1/2 c bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350. Boil macaroni in salted water. Drain and rinse enough only to cool, to stop cooking. Set aside.
Melt sauce butter in a large pan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and mustard and keep whisking until it reaches the consistency of a light paste. Reduce heat to medium-low and add milk. (To avoid burning, whisk some of the paste into a bowl containing 1/2 cup milk, then whisk the mixture back into the pan to temper.) Keep whisking until mixture is hot, then temper in the egg. (Whisk egg into the same bowl you used before, add several spoons of the milk mixture into the egg bowl while continuing to whisk, then whisk the bowl back into the pan.) Add the 9 oz cheese and whisk until fully combined.
Combine macaroni and sauce in a 2-quart casserole dish. Add the remaining 3 oz cheese directly on top of the casserole. Microwave 2 oz butter and combine with the bread crumbs. Add the bread crumb mixture to the top of the casserole. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove and cool for 20 minutes.