MMMMmmmmmac and Cheese

We have been slacking off in the "cook something new and then rave about it" department lately. Desperate for inspiration, I decided to spend a day perusing the Memphis food lover's blogs, my favorite spot for food inspiration. Not in the mood for anything too fancy or time consuming I stumbled upon this fabulous looking mac n cheese recipe courtesy of the squirrel squad from across the street.

Being a cheese and pasta freak, I got super excited and ran into the kitchen, keeping my fingers crossed the whole time, hoping that I had everything I needed. I like to keep a fully stocked pantry because one of my BIGGEST peeves is having the cooking bug hit only to find that I have to make a run to the store for some ingredient that I forgot to restock.

Of course, we were missing some key ingredients. Although we are huge cheese lovers, we are also semi lactose intolerant so we were in short supply of sour cream, and completely devoid of cream cheese. I recalled once making a mac n' cheese with a mornay base, so I went searching for a more precise recipe. While I can generally cook anything without a recipe and make it taste good, I will flub up a sauce in a heart beat.

I found my mac n' cheese recipe in How to Cook Everything. This book has far more to offer in the way of technique than in actual recipe content IMO, but it has never let me down. One of this cookbook's biggest perks, I always have all the ingredients for almost all of the recipes on hand.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

  • 2.5 cups milk
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 lb of cut pasta (I used shells because shells are my favorite)
  • 4 tblsp butter
  • 3 tblsp flour
  • 1.5 cups grated cheese ( we used everything in the fridge: Brie, parm, port salute, and fontina)
  • .5 cup grated parm
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • .5 cups bread crumbs
1. Preheat the oven to 400ยบ F and bring a large pot of water to a boil.

2. Cook milk with bay leaves over low heat until small bubble start to form on the sides of the pan, turn off heat and let stand. Salt boiling water and cook pasta to the point where it still needs a couple of minutes to be completely done. Drain, rinse in cold water to stop cooking and place in a bowl.

3. In a small sauce pan over medium low heat melt butter. When it foams add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until it begins to brown. (about 5 minutes) Remove bay leaves from milk and add milk, about .25 cups at a time to the flour mixture, stir between each addition until mixture becomes smooth. When you have added all the milk and the entire mixture is smooth, add the cheese (minus the .5 cup of parm), stirring until it melts.

4. Pour the sauce over the noodles, toss in the reserved parm, salt and pepper. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan and pour the noodle mixture in. Top with bread crumbs and bake until the crumbs turn brown, about 15 minutes.

It turned out fan-frickin'-tastic. Even the left overs were delicious, and I have a hard time enjoying left over pasta of any sort. No pictures of this dish, we were starving and it tasted too good to wait for some stinking pictures. See Suirrel Squads recipe for a picture that looks identical to the turn out of our dish, or , a better idea, make it yourself and take your own photos.



  • At 1:06 PM, Blogger Mama Squirrel said…

    Yeah for cheese! You guys rock because you used a real recipe instead of just dumping it all in a pan and keeping your fingers crossed.

  • At 5:46 PM, Blogger La C. said…

    Like I said, I can flub a sauce in a heartbeat. i only use recipes because I am a chicken.

  • At 9:41 PM, Anonymous Benito said…

    If you love cheese, one of the best kept secrets in Memphis is the little odds bin at Wild Oats (soon to be a Whole Foods?). You can buy little one or two ounce portions of all sorts of interesting cheeses. They keep all of the little pieces in a basket in the cheese section, and each piece is generally under $3.

    Among my favorites I've discovered that way are an Applewood Smoked White Cheddar and the "Drunken Goat" brandy-soaked goat cheese.

  • At 4:01 PM, Blogger La C. said…

    Thank you for the tip. It'd be so nice if they'd move the wild oats back to it's old midtown location before they turn it into whole foods. Although I believe the cheese habit would get out of hand.


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