Macaroni & Cheese Bake

I haven't had macaroni and cheese in a while, so I decided to make some last night. I wanted to take another run at a baked mac and cheese because our previous attempt turned into an egg souffle. I'll never understand what Delia was thinking in the Mac & Cheese throwdown. 12 eggs? Ridiculous.

The recipe we used came from Alton Brown and Good Eats. Its pretty straight forward, but we made some changes so that it was more of an adult entree:
  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon powdered mustard
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 large egg
  • 12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 1/2 cup peas

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it's free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.

Temper in the egg. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.

Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

Remember to save leftovers for fried Macaroni and Cheese.

We added the additional vegetables when we folded the pasta in the cheese sauce. The recipe is pretty simple. My advice would be once you've gotten past the simmer stage and you're preparing to mix in your cheese, turn the stove off. It will give you a little more leeway with how quickly you need to finish the last few steps. It will also prevent the cheese from getting grainy.

If you're not sure how to temper the egg, you beat an egg in a bowl, then mix in the hot cheese sauce into the bowl 1 tbsp at a time until the egg mixture reaches a temperature close to the temperature of the cheese sauce. If you just beat the egg and toss it in without tempering, the egg will cook immediately and nothing will bind.

Overall this dish was pretty mediocre. The texture was great and I wouldn't change much about any of the preparation, I just felt like the flavor was little bit bland. Maybe adding the extra vegetables necessitated adding more seasoning, which I didn't do, but it wasn't quite as flavorful as I expected. If you follow the instructions I'd recommend you find a spot to mix in some salt.


dolphkhan said...

I've used AB's recipe numerous times as a base (never added veggies, though.. I don't know about the peas, but the corn and pepper sound great!), I always tweak it quite a bit. I always use more paprika, and make sure I mix some in with the topping, both for color and flavor. Also, I favor a 2:1 mix of sharp cheddar and pepper jack. Based on your pepper idea, I may try some roasted/skinned/diced jalapeno or cubanelles, next time. Thanks!