We're talking comfort food here today. The warm, gooey, stick to your ribs kinda food. The so bad for you it's good, and so good it's wrong kind of food. Ooooh it's going to be great!
We're creating this food today for two reasons:
1) In exactly 3 weeks from now I'm expecting to get homesick, HARD, and I would like to try and stave it off for as long as possible.
2) I feel like I've been in deep freeze for the last week, and I am sick of it.
It's been hovering around 6-8 degrees here in Shenzhen and while that sounds like a nice, mild day where I come from, here it means bone chilling cold. There is no insulation and no indoor heating. So whatever temperature it is outside, it is inside too. Which means it's just 6 - 8 degrees. All. The. Time. 24/7. No breaks. No respites by sneaking into the lobby of a building. Cold. Always. Wah wah wah.
So I drink hot water and make mac and cheese. It's how I deal.
This recipe came from my dear friend Meg, who in turn got it from a dear friend of hers. Recipes that get passed along from friend to friend to friend are always the best, because it means it's been tried and tested and proved true enough to be deemed pass-worthy. This recipe is no different. It starts with a basic roux (don't worry, it's easier than it sounds), and then we add handfuls of cheese to make it ooey-gooey good, and finally a smidge of mustard, salt and pepper to really send it over the top. If you're looking for classic-no-add-ins-mac-and-cheese, this is it. And with that dear friends, I pass it on to you.
Recommended for those times you need something that will take all your troubles away and heat you from the inside out.
Classic Mac and Cheese
1/4 cup butter
A scant 1/2 cup of flour
4 cups of milk
1 Bay Leaf
2 cups of cheese (a sharp cheddar is recommended)
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
2 1/2 cups macaroni
1/4 - 1/3 cup bread or panko crumbs
- Ok folks, we're starting with a roux! Just wait until you see how simple it is! Melt the butter in a sauce pan and add the flour. Stir or whisk consistently, and quickly, until combined and smooth.
- Add one cup of milk and stire constantly until smooth and thick. Add the bay leaf and then slowly, but consistently pour in the rest of the milk and continue to stir until you reach a smooth consistency.
- Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat and allow the mixture to thicken.
- Stir in the cheese until completely melted.
- Mix in the mustard, salt and pepper.
- Remove the bay leaf
- Meanwhile, in a separate pot, cook the macaroni until al dente. Do not overcook - the noodles will continue to cook while baking
- Mix the noodles into the cheese mixture and poor into a casserole dish and sprinkle on bread crumbs.
- Bake at 350 for approximately 25 minutes or until the top has browned.