Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Benjamin's fabulous macaroni and cheese

Benjamin makes outstanding home made macaroni and cheese. Like, really amazing, wholesome, mouthwateringly, delicious macaroni and cheese. It's one of our ultimate comfort foods. We've been asked for the recipe by several friends, so here is my best attempt at reducing the fine art of cooking macaroni and cheese by feel to a recipe. Remember that though I'm pretty sure these measurements will work, they are only approximate. If it doesn't seem to be turning out quite right, feel free to tweak it.

~1 pound of elbow noodles (We strongly recommend Barilla. Yes, it does make a difference.)
~3 tablespoons butter
~1 medium clove of garlic, minced very finely (optional)
~3 tablespoons flour
~1 1/2 cups milk
~1 pound of cheese, grated. We like to play with the combinations. Good cheeses to use are white and yellow cheddars of various sharpnesses (the sharper, the better, in my opinion), colby jack, or colby. Avoid cheeses that are very stretchy when melted like mozzarella or muenster.
~salt and pepper to taste
~1/2 inch cubes of ham to taste (optional)

~Boil pasta according to instructions on package.

~In the meantime, melt the butter in a large sauce pan. Add the garlic and sauté over low heat (the low heat is important!) until golden brown. Whisk in the flour.

~Add the milk, and whisk until the flour and butter are incorporated smoothly into the milk.

~Turn the heat up to medium, and cook the milk mixture, stirring very frequently to keep the flour from sticking to the bottom, until it begins to boil. Turn the heat down so that the milk mixture is just simmering, and whisk until it begins to thicken.

~As it thickens, add the grated cheese one handful at a time, stirring until the cheese melts before adding more. Once all the cheese is incorporated into the sauce, simmer it (stirring frequently) until the desired thickness is achieved. Remember as you do this, that the sauce will thicken as it is stirred into the pasta and cools.

~Taste the sauce, and add salt and pepper to taste. Add the diced ham, if you chose to use it. Turn the heat off.

~Drain the pasta thoroughly, and combine it with the sauce. Mix gently until the sauce is evenly distributed throughout the pasta.

~Serve hot, and enjoy!

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