Monday, August 15, 2011

Baked Mac & Cheese

Pin It Now! We recently celebrated my daughters 3rd birthday.  (it's not offical till the end of August, but we were with family)  When I asked her what she wanted for her birthday dinner, she didn't hesitate "mac & cheese!"  Okay, see, here's the funny thing...I hardly ever make mac & cheese.  It's really once in a blue moon type of thing.  She is on a TOTAL "noodle" kick right now.  She'll eat anything if there are noodles in it.  She wanted noodles for breakfast three days in a row.  (not that she got them)  
But, of course I would indulge her for her birthday.  I decided to make a nice homemade baked mac & cheese.  Got the recipe from Alton Brown on Food Network.  I wanted something that wasn't insanely unhealthy and coated in heavy cream.  His recipe fit the bill.  Since my birthday girl and her big sis were going to be the only kids there, I also made a separate dish of mac & cheese with bacon and mushrooms added in.  Wicked good.  
I had a happy kid and happy family.  It was a wonderful little party.  Best of all, my little one got her noodles.  :)


  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon powdered mustard
  • 3 cups 2% milk
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika (for a smokey taste, use smoked paprika)
  • 1 large egg
  • 12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh black pepper
  • *if you want to perk it up a bit add:
  • 4 oz chopped mushrooms sauteed till soft
  • 5 slices of bacon, crumbled and cooked 

  • Topping:

    • 3 tablespoons butter
    • 1 cup panko bread crumbs


    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 skillet, add a bit of oil and saute the onions until tender.  Then, 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, sauteed onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.
    Temper in the egg (see note below) and add to the milk mixture. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix (here's where you would add the bacon and mushrooms, if using) 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.
    *Note: To temper an egg: You pour a hot liquid, just a little at a time in to the egg mix, so that it doesn't cook the eggs as you are mixing.


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