Image lifted from here.
Taken just now in my living roomDon't tell me the thought has never crossed your mind either. They share the same propensity for spectacles (the optical adjustment kind) and the same hairline. They are both dryly funny and straight to the point. It is no surprise that Alton Brown is my culinary crush, seeing how closely he resembles my sweetheart.
For tonight's supper, we turned to Alton's Mac N Cheese recipe. Of course, I had to mess with it, but I kept it's spirit intact. Delia has never had real baked Macaroni and Cheese. I have not made it since I have been a Mom. So this was a first for both of us, sort of. When it came out of the oven, all bubbly and crispy, I could barely wait till it cooled down to shove it in my pie hole. Delia took one bite and shook her head remorsefully. It's ok, because I ate hers too.
When I was a kid, to make Mac N Cheese, I made a white sauce (didn't know the French word for it back then) and melted Velveeta into it, cause that was what we had. Now I kind of think Velveeta is a crime against nature. But Macaroni and Cheese is still the World's Best Comfort Food, and with a little finesse and a pound of cheese I have managed to create a classical modern adaptation of Alton's solid recipe. Here you have it!
- Bring a big pot full of water, like the biggest pot in your house, to a roiling boil. Add an absurd amount of salt. As Si at A Bountiful Kitchen suggests, your pasta water should taste like seawater. If you haven't had the pleasure of real ocean brine in your mouth lately - get thee to the beach!
- Add about 3 cups of elbow macaroni and stir, stir, stir. If you have a nice baking dish that gets used frequently, you oughta know how much pasta it holds. Make that much pasta. My Corning French White Casserole just fits this recipe. Cook that macaroni till it is al dente. It will cook a bit more in the oven, so you don't want it to cook it too soft here.
- While the pasta boils, melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan. Whisk in 3 Tablespoons of flour, 1 Tablespoon of dry mustard, a teaspoon of turmeric, and a nice pinch of nutmeg. Cook for about five minutes over medium low heat.
- Now whisk in 3 cups of milk, a goodly splash of strong beer (bout 1/3 cup of Sam Adams was used here) 1/2 cup minced onion, 2 smushed cloves of garlic, half a teaspoon of paprika, and a bay leaf. Simmer for ten minutes, stirring frequently. It should thicken up somewhat, but not too much.
- Sometime around here your pasta will get done. Drain it and then toss it back with a bit of butter so it doesn't stick to itself while you are finishing the sauce.
- After the ten minutes are up, stir in a bunch of shredded cheese. I used 8 oz of sharp cheddar and about 5 ounces of this really nice English Cheddar that I got at Aldis. Save a little bit of the cheese to sprinkle on top, about 1/4 of the total cheese.
- Stir your elbow macaroni into the cheese sauce, and pour into a greased casserole dish. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the top of the casserole.
- In a saute pan, brown about 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs (or more if you like) in some butter. Then sprinkle them over the top of your mac&cheese.
- Bake at 350 for about half an hour. Let it rest for at least 5 minutes after you take it out of the oven before cutting into it.