Thursday, March 10, 2011

Stripped down and Ready for Action

For years I have been making Macaroni and Cheese.  And for years I have tweaked, nudged and otherwise tried to simplify and streamline a recipe that satisfies my own deep need for Mac & Cheese.  I think this is it. 

I have tried other methods but for me it has to be baked and it has to start with a bechamel.

                                              Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Servings  : 6    
2  cups  macaroni
2  tablespoons  butter
1  tablespoon  olive oil
2  tablespoons  flour
1/4   teaspoon  garlic powder
1/4   teaspoon  cayenne
1/2   teaspoon  dry mustard
1/2   teaspoon  garlic powder
1 tablespoon  chicken bouillon -- I use Tones Chicken Base
3 cups  2% low-fat milk (what was in the fridge - could be evapo or whole)
1 cup  cottage cheese -- pureed (optional)
8 ounces  sharp cheddar cheese -- grated
1 ounce  Velveeta -- diced

In a large pot, boil macaroni until done.  Drain and set aside.
In the now empty pot melt Butter and olive oil.  Add flour.  Cook. 
Add seasonings and chicken base to the flour/butter blend.
Add milk slowly, whisking, bring to simmer. This will be a very thin bechamel.
Add Cottage cheese, cheese and Velveeta.  Heat to melt and blend cheeses but don't get all obsessive about it.
Stir in macaroni.
Turn out into large buttered baking dish.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until bubbly, brown and delicious.

Important things here are the chicken base, the dry mustard and the cayenne.  this really brings out the cheesiness.  The pureed cottage cheese can be replaced with sour cream or cream cheese.  What is important is the depth of dairy it brings to the sauce.  The Velveeta keeps the whole thing from going grainy.

With steamed fresh broccoli on the side this is lovely for Lent or any time.

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