Baked Macaroni and Cheese

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This post has been in the making for over a year.  I’ve been messing around with mac and cheese for a while and decided to try to make some for my blog.  I went all out and bought all kinds of different cheeses to make the most decadent cheese sauce.  Turns out, all that expensive cheese will be wasted if your roux or bechemel sauce isn’t quite right.  I made sticky, oily, soupy, and just plain broken sauces.  I gave up after a while.  I just couldn’t get it right.  A few months went by and I found a recipe in an old cookbook.  The recipe looked easy enough, I thought I’d give it another try.  I don’t know why I was having such a hard time with the sauce.  This was so easy to do and the consistency was perfect.  I’d rather have a bit more sauce than this recipe made, but it was great!  I altered the recipe to my liking and made it again, even better.  I think I have it down now.  Just remember, if your bechemel sauce isn’t right, throw it out and start over.  You’ll waste a bit of fat, flour, and milk, but you’ll save the cheese from being ruined.  And feel free to mix up the cheeses used, I found that using some white cheeses in addition to cheddar makes a better sauce.

Adapted from The Italian Cooking Encyclopedia’s Baked Macaroni With Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz sharp Cheddar cheese – grated
  • 8 oz Monterey Jack cheese – grated
  • 8 oz Muenster cheese – grated
  • 16 oz macaroni noodles
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/6 cup butter
  • 1/6 cup bacon drippings
  • 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 4 slices thick cut bacon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400F.  Cook bacon over medium heat until cooked.  Pour drippings into a small bowl and set aside.  Heat milk and bay leaf in a small saucepan, but do not let it boil.  Over medium heat, melt butter in medium saucepan, add bacon drippings and flour, combine with wire whisk.  Cook for 2-3 minutes(if roux gets too thick, add a bit more bacon drippings or butter).  Add milk all at once and stir to combine.  Bring sauce to boil or near boil, cook for a few more minutes or until sauce thickens.  Add salt, pepper, cayenne, nutmeg, and all but 1/2 cup of the cheese to the sauce, combine. Place plastic wrap on top of the sauce and set aside.  Boil water for pasta.  Chop bacon and set aside. Cook pasta but remove it a bit early because it will cook in the oven.  Using a tablespoon or two of the bacon drippings, brown the breadcrumbs.  When pasta is ready, add to the sauce and combine.  Place half of the breadcrumbs in the bottom of a casserole dish, then add the mac and cheese.  Now add the rest of the breadcrumbs, bacon, and the leftover cheese.  Cook for about 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Serve immediately.

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5 thoughts on “Baked Macaroni and Cheese

  1. I recently wrote an article about activities all people can find joy in… and I have just realised I never considered cooking! You have somehow made me hungry even though I just had my supper 🙂

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