Sunday, August 10, 2008

Ultimate Mac & Cheese

My mother made the best mac and cheese! This was years ago, before you could buy it in a box for 35 cents. It was for this recipe that I first learned to make a roux, and she made a nice cheese sauce with it.

I still make it her way, though I've added some tinkering of my own. Just when I thought it was perfect, Pete went and added a topping to it that made it even better!

To make the Mac and Cheese:

  •  2 Tbl olive oil or butter
  •  2 Tbl to 1/4 Cup of minced onion
  •  1/4 to 1/3 Cup flour
  •  3 Cups of Ziti noodles
  •  2 Cups of cheddar or colby cheese, cubed
  •  2 1/2 Cups milk

Boil the Ziti according to package directions (about 10-12 minutes).

Saute"Æ the onion in the oil. When it just begins to brown, add the flour and take it halfway off the fire while you stir the flour into the oil, making the roux for your sauce. Add the milk and put pan back on fire, turning it to high or med high and whisking until it begins to thicken. Once it's about the consistency of buttermilk (thicker than whole milk, but thinner than cream), add the cheese and stir until the cheese is well incorporated. To this I had about a 1/2 tsp salt and pepper to taste.

Combine the ziti and the sauce in a casserole dish, mixing well. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, adding the topping after 15 minutes.

To make the topping:

  •  4 slices of bread, toasted well but not burned. White or wheat.
  •  2 Tbls melted butter or margarine
  •  1 Tbls olive oil
  •  1 Tbls Parsley (fresh if possible)
  •  1 Tbls Thyme (fresh if possible)
  •  1/2 tsp salt

Put toast in food processor and process until you have fine crumbs. Put crumbs into a bowl with the other dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Add butter and olive oil and fluff with fork. Immediately sprinkle on top on Mac and Cheese and continue baking 15 minutes.

Do not make topping until you are ready to apply it! It will get soggy if you let it sit!

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