When I mentioned on Facebook what I planned on having for dinner tonight, I naturally went to include a link to the recipe. The only problem? I apparently I haven’t shared the recipe to my baked macaroni and cheese yet. There is a version in my cookbook, If You Can Read, You Can Cook. But this version is a little different, plus has been scaled down for two.
Obviously, this is no boxed macaroni and cheese. This dish takes a lot of effort, with a good 20 minutes of stirring. But the effort is worth it. Instead of a boring stove-top dish of reconstituted powdered cheese, this is a good, old-fashioned cheese sauce made from a traditional French roux. The result is a rich, creamy sauce that contrasts nicely with the crunch of the baked crust for a macaroni and cheese that will truly spoil you from the Kraft variety.
Macaroni and Cheese… Now with Breadcrumbs!
The major change (aside from the volume) in this recipe is the addition of breadcrumbs on top. While I love the taste of the baked cheese crust on top of my mother’s macaroni and cheese, I’ve found that breadcrumbs give it an added crunch that really makes this pop out.
I will admit, I’m a bit late to the breadcrumbs on macaroni and cheese game. I knew southern-style mac & cheese dishes used breadcrumbs as a topping, but it wasn’t until pre-packaged macaroni and cheese bakes started coming to the market, all of them with breadcrumbs, did I realize how popular that style is. So I’ve tried it, and now I’m a believer.
- ¼ lb macaroni, cooked (3 cups)
- 2 TBSP butter
- 2 TBSP flour
- 1 c. milk
- 2 c. shredded cheddar
- 1 can cheese soup
- ½ c. breadcrumbs
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cook macaroni according to directions on package. Drain and pour into glass baking dish.
- In large pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour. Slowly stir in the milk, 1 cup of shredded cheese, and cheese soup. Continue stirring until cheese is completely melted and sauce begins to thicken, approximately 20 minutes.
- Pour cheese sauce over pasta and combine thoroughly.
- Sprinkle remaining cheese and breadcrumbs over top.
- Place on top rack of oven. Bake for 60 minutes, until topping is browned.
In the great debate over butter or margarine, I won’t comment on the health arguments for either food. But I will say this: margarine seems to melt faster, but butter seems to give the cheese sauce a richer color. Either way doesn’t affect the taste in any noticeable way. The butter/margarine contributes only 1/64 of the total volume of this dish.