Yesss….comfort food season is upon us.
How would you like my macaroni and cheese recipe?
If you are on a diet, or can’t eat rich oooey cheesy goodness, DO NOT make this recipe. And this is not your mama’s mac and cheese, it’s a special occasion make once in a while kind of deal.
And oh yes, as a related aside, I love these old vintage Dansk Koben Style Dutch ovens from the 1950’s and 1960s? I picked a couple up in sunny yellow at different tag sales years ago.
Dansk is reissuing them and selling through Crate and Barrel. Boy am I glad I scored mine at $5 a piece quite a few years ago. They are quite the tasty price now if purchased new in 2012 (the pricing is a bit ridiculous I think). I have a 4 quart and what I make the Mac & Cheese in, a 6 quart. They also reissued the baking pan from the Koben Style line. Save your money on that one – everything sticks to the enamel on that particular pan, so unless you want to be a dishwashing slave, skip it.
Anyway…These Dutch Ovens (Dansk Kobenstyle) do show up often on Ebay and at tag sales. The prices on Ebay can get a little rich for my blood on them. But if you can score one of either size for $20 or under, you got a great deal. Mine were a steal, but I collected them before they became collectable – my original impetus was my mother had a 6 quart Kobenstyle Dutch Oven and I loved cooking with it and wanted one of my own. I ended up with two. And seriously, I use them ALL the time.
The Best Macaroni and Cheese…Ever
6 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup flour
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups low-fat half and half
1 3/4 cups light cream
8 oz cream cheese (block not in the tub)
1 box of elbow macaroni or small pasta of your choice (16 oz)
5 cups of grated/shredded cheese (I buy the mix – Cheddar and Monterey Jack, or the “macaroni and cheese blend” which also has American)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 a medium onion minced
Healthy dash of Worcestershire sauce
Healthy dash of Tabasco sauce
Small dash of ground mace
8 slices of cooked and crumbled thick bacon
Melt butter in dutch oven. Add onion, cook a few minutes until translucent. (4 minutes on my stove on a medium flame I watch like a hawk so not to burn butter.)
Reduce heat to low and whisk in flour and salt and mace. When it all comes together like a white paste you are finished with that step.
Slowly add half and half. Add Tabasco and Worcestershire.
Slowly add light cream.
Bring it up to a boil and then reduce heat to low.
Add grated parmesan cheese. When that is incorporated and smooth, add cream cheese. When that is incorporated and smooth slowly add the other cheese (cheddar blend see above).
Stir, stir, stir so nothing sticks and turn off burner and move sauce off the heat. (Here’s a tip – I remove a cup of the sauce to a separate container – I usually cook this a day ahead, so when I reheat I add the extra sauce as it heats up – some people just heat up with extra milk – I find this thins it out)
Cook your pasta as per the instructions on the box. Drain but do not rinse.
Fold into your cheese sauce in the Dutch Oven. Add the crumbled bacon and gently fold a little more until all incorporated. Check your mac and cheese and add additional salt and fresh ground pepper to your taste.
You can either serve as is, or throw Dutch Oven into the fridge and eat a day later. If you choose the eat a day later option, reheat slowly on stove top on very low and add back in the extra cheese sauce which you put in a separate air tight container and refrigerated along with big batch of mac & cheese.
If you don’t use the extra cheese sauce in the re-heating of the mac and cheese, you can store for a few days and use on other things (like broccoli)
This is very rich, but super yummy. This recipe will serve a crowd easily as you won’t want to dish up honking huge portions.
And hey, if dishing up to grown-ups give a rough chop to some fresh Italian Flat Leaf Parsley and toss on top when serving as a garnish.