How to Make And Bake Homemade Macaroni And Cheese Dinner
- Prep time: 30 min
- Cook time: 30 min
- Ready in: 1 hour
- Yields: 6-8 servings
Thomas Jefferson / France Quiz
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Macaroni and Cheese is a staple of quick, easy and convenient (boxed) American food. However; it was once a very exotic dish. There is an old story that Thomas Jefferson was the first American to try and make his own macaroni noodles, because he was such a fan of the dish. Jefferson sent away to Italy for a noodle machine, but sadly didn’t receive a Macaroni noodle maker; he received a Spaghetti noodle machine; thus defeating his plans.
Supposedly the dish of Macaroni and Cheese was of French origins that the American Colonials / Revolutionaries first enjoyed, along with Coffee, during their meetings with the French planning the Revolution. The original dish was similar to the modern casserole. It was macaroni noodles tossed in a cheese sauce and topped with bread crumbs and baked until golden brown on top.
This recipe is obviously different from our traditional, Americanized boxed and powdered Mac and Cheese dinner. But if you want to try this from scratch, feel free to accept the challenge; and a challenge it is.
There are many steps and they can be frustrating:
First, you must make a roux; which is a flour and butter mixture cooked down to a paste used as a thickener, to make the base of the sauce.
Second, you must make a cream sauce; which is the roux mixed and cooked with cold milk (the cold milk is important because if you use warm or hot milk you’ll get clumps when you add it to the roux) known as a béchamel sauce.
Third, you make a cheese sauce; which is fresh shredded cheddar cheese added and melted into the béchamel sauce. You must use fresh shredded cheese instead of the pre-packaged shredded cheese, because the packaged stuff is coated with oil to keep the pieces from sticking together.
After all that fun, you’ll most likely have the best Mac and Cheese ever. But if you find it all too much, you can stick with the boxed dinner stuff, but you’ll regret!
1 lb. dried Macaroni noodles
6-8 cups water (for boiling)
1 teaspoon salt, optional
16 oz. (2 cups) real cheddar Cheese (block of cheese is best!)
2 cups Cold Milk
2 tablespoons Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons All-purpose Flour
¼ teaspoon or more of paprika, to taste (optional)
¼ teaspoon or more of cracked black pepper, to taste (optional)
1 cup Italian Bread crumbs (for topping)
4 tablespoons melted butter (for topping)
Large cooking pot
Medium-large casserole baking dish
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Macaroni and Cheese
Is making homemade Macaroni and Cheese worth it since you can buy it boxed?
1. Shred the cheddar cheese, using a food processor with the shredding blade attached or a funnel shredder / grater and then set aside.
2. In a large cook pot fill with 6-8 cups water (add 1 teaspoon of salt if desired).
3. Bring water to a rapid boil.
4. Add macaroni pasta noodles.
5. Boil noodles for 10-12 minutes (or by the package's instructions) until cooked (to “al dente”).
6. Drain noodles and set aside; ready the baking dish by buttering it if desired.
7. Pour out the water from the cooking pot.
8. Add the butter and flour to the cooking pot
9. Over medium heat, cook the flour and butter into a blonde roux. This should take about five minutes, with constant stirring. It will be ready when it is a light yellow / brown color. Be careful not to let it burn or you'll have to start over.
10. Add the cold milk to the pot and whisk constantly until the milk and roux becomes a béchamel sauce (cream sauce) that is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Lower the heat to low.
11. Gradually add the shredded cheddar, a little at a time, while constantly stirring, making sure that each part is fully melted and incorporated into the sauce before adding more. (This is very important or the sauce will “break” or separate and become clumpy).
12. Taste cheese sauce and add the paprika and pepper if desired.
13. Pour the noodles into the pot and mix with the cheese. Then spread the mixture into the baking dish.
14. Top with more shredded cheese if desired, (optional)
15. Mix the bread crumbs and melted butter together and sprinkle it over the cheesy noodles.
16. Pre-heat oven to 350 degree F.
17. Bake the casserole, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes until top is golden brown.
18. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving.