There is nothing cozier or more comforting than a giant bowl of homemade baked macaroni and cheese. My mom would make us macaroni and cheese when we were sick at home with a winter cold. Hers was filled with elbow macaroni and colby jack cheese and she would top it with saltine crumbs that would brown in the oven and create a crisp crust that you would shatter with your spoon while getting the creamy layer of cheese and noodles beneath. There is nothing good for you about macaroni and cheese as its loaded down with butter, milk, and cheese but oh does it make you feel good.
When the wind is whipping outside or it’s a rainy blustery Spring Day in St. Paul– make baked macaroni and cheese. I make mine with whole wheat noodles so I can pretend It’s reasonably healthy. If you want to make it a complete meal, versus a guilty pleasure, add some sliced cherry tomatoes with bacon, ham or prosciutto. If you have lots of dribs and drabs of leftover cheese feel free to add them. You can use Cheddar, Goat, Blue, Swiss, Jack even hunks of cream cheese can be thrown in the sauce before you mix in the noodles.
- 21/2 cups milk (low-fat is fine)
- 1 pound whole wheat shells, corkscrews or rottini
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter plus 1 tablespoon to grease pan
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 21/2 cups grated cheese, like sharp cheddar or jack or a mix
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup or more bread crumbs, preferably fresh
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Mix the butter with the flour on low heat and stir for two minutes in a large saucepan with a wire wisk
- Add the milk and add dried mustard and continue wisking . When small bubbles appear along the sides, about 5 minutes later, turn off the heat.
- Cook the pasta to el dente
- As soon as the mixture becomes smooth, add the cheese and stir.
- Pour the sauce over the noodles, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Use the remaining 1 tablespoon butter to grease a 9 x 13-inch or similar-size baking pan and turn the pasta mixture into it. Top liberally with bread crumbs and bake until bubbling and the crumbs turn brown, about 20 minutes. Serve piping hot.