Friday, June 4, 2010

Grown Up Mac 'n Cheese - not the standard 'blue box' experience.

Today I wax sentimental.  I am now officially finished with the public school system, parent teacher conferences, grades, and everything that's part of that experience.  My youngest graduated from high school Wednesday, and now things are really going to change.  It made me think of all those PB & J sandwiches, Mickey-Mouse pancakes, and mac 'n cheese I stirred up for years on end...

If you’ve made the BLUE BOX mac ‘n cheese as many times as I have, this will make up for all those years of monotony.  This dish is a ramped up version of the boxed classic meal that most kids require growing up.  The flavor and texture made me re-think my bias against any kids favorite I made more than once a week for years.

I had my grandkids visiting here for the graduation this past week, and that means noodle mania.  It’s so much easier to get through a meal (without a battle) if it contains some kind of pasta, cheese, and a creamy sauce.  

I pulled this recipe off the cjaneinthekitchen blog.  She mentioned that it is the #1 requested recipe.  It is an Alton Brown recipe - so I could almost see him in my mind’s eye explaining the ‘science’ behind it.  Speaking of science, this recipe contains an egg which is tempered in.  

The flour, butter, and dry mustard cook for about 5 minutes before adding the milk.  I’m sure those steps are important to achieve the really wonderful cheese sauce (but don’t ask me to explain why...) 

A few other things make this recipe special.  A healthy amount of paprika makes the sauce a rosy golden color.  Finely diced onion really makes a difference.  And lastly - simmering the sauce with a bay leaf for about 10 minutes adds flavor you don’t see in standard mac ‘n cheese.  

About 1/4 of the cheese is reserved to hide under the buttery panko bread crumbs.  

This is one classic that you just might consider comfort food for both kids and adults.

For the recipe and step-by-step photos, go to:

(As you can see below... healthy doses of mac 'n cheese produced some pretty great kids)

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