Friday, February 15, 2013

Baked Mac & Cheese

Call it a very late effort to organize myself for the new year, but I've been going through my stacks and stacks of bookmarked and Post-It marked recipes.  I'm clearing out the ones I've already blogged, the ones I don't intend to make anymore, and the ones that juts don't interest me anymore to make room for the new ones that do tempt me.  Since I've dropped the gluten-free / grain-free / sugar-free restrictions from my diet (long story) and am back to 'normal' food, I can get rid of some of the overly-complex recipes that work around things like putting milk, eggs, or sugar into recipes.  The weirdest thing about dropping the sugar-free/grain-free requirement from my diet is that my mood has improved.  Dramatically.  No wonder dieters always look so miserable, it's hard work living within tight constraints like that!

One of the recipes I dug out was one I'd completely forgotten I had saved.  I <3 mac & cheese.  Maybe it reminds me of the one Mom used to make when I was little? I don't quite know.  There's just something comforting about ooey-gooey cheese and pasta.  So I figured, since today is weird -- it's raining and snowing and sunny and cloudy, depending on when you look outside, I would make this treat for myself as a distraction from the yuck outside.  Now I've got a warm, yummy-smelling kitchen to sit in as I sort through the rest of my recipes and plan out what I'm going to make for the next little while.  What could be better?  Oh yeah, knowing I'll get to enjoy my mac & cheese all next week, that's what!

Baked Mac & Cheese
Makes: 6 large servings

4 cups uncooked macaroni
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup butter*
1/4 cup whole-wheat flour*
2 1/2 cups milk*
2 tsp dry mustard
16 oz cheese, grated
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
sprinkle thyme

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Cook macaroni according to package directions until slightly firm.  Drain and set aside.

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat.  Whisk in the flour and cook the mixture for five minutes, whisking constantly and being careful not to burn.  Add the milk to the pot, stir in the dry mustard, and whisk until smooth.  Cook the mixture for five minutes until very thick.  Reduce the heat to low.

Add the beaten egg to a small bowl.  Take 1/4 cup of the warm sauce and slowly pour it into the beaten egg, whisking constantly to avoid scrambling the egg.  Whisk until smooth.  Pour the tempered egg mixture back into the sauce, whisking constantly.  Stir until smooth.  Mix in the cheese, reserving a handful for topping, and stir until completely melted.  Add in salt and other seasonings.  Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.  Add the drained cooked macaroni to the pot and mix well.

Pour the mixture into a baking dish, top with reserved cheese, and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden and bubbly on top.

* I used unsalted butter, 1% milk, and whole wheat flour because that's what I had on hand.  The original recipe calls for salted butter, whole milk, and plain white flour.  I added in some penne I had left from another box in order to make it to 4 cups of pasta.

So fresh out of the oven it was still bubbling.
Source: Annie's Eats & The Pioneer Woman .

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