Nana’s Kitchen: Macaroni and Cheese

Greetings, home cooks, welcome to Nana’s kitchen,

I am feeling some old fashioned comfort food this week. How about some mac and cheese?
Not the boxed kind. The baked in the oven homemade kind. 

The boxed macaroni and cheese appeared in 1937 during the Great Depression by the Kraft company.
In one year Kraft sold 8 million boxes of comfort food. The box served four for 19 cents.

The traditional macaroni and cheese is a casserole baked in the oven. A bechamel sauce (white sauce) is made then cheese is added to make a Mornay sauce (shredded cheese add in) which is then added to the prepared pasta. All ingredients combined and baked in the oven.

In the 14th century a pasta and cheese recipes was included in the Italian cook book, ‘Liber de Coquina’, also in this time period a Medieval English cookbook ‘Forme of Cury’ mentions a recipe calling the dish ‘makerouns’. ‘Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management’ has recipes for 
macaroni and cheese from 1861.

The recipe today is a base recipe for macaroni and cheese. By itself it is good but it lends itself to adding other ingredients to increase the flavor.

Macaroni and Cheese

2 1/2 cups elbow macaroni
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cups whole milk or half and half or combination of each
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook and drain pasta according to package instructions.
While pasta is cooking prepare the sauce. Melt butter over low heat.
Stir in flour, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard.
Cook over low heat stirring constantly until a smooth and bubbly mixture is attained.
Slowly add milk, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil and cook at least one minute.
Remove from heat and stir in cheese until melted.
Add the macaroni to sauce and combine.
Pour mixture into casserole dish.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
Serve. Enjoy!

Add in items are up to you and your families likes.
Some suggestions might be:
Some crumbled cooked bacon. Jarred drained fire roasted tomatoes, spices such as smoked paprika or cayenne. Change the cheese, perhaps Colby Jack or Monterey Jack.
Make a topping with some crushed potato chips, flavored chips, crushed crackers, or bread 
crumbs in melted butter. To get a crispy topping, add topping in the last few minutes of cooking and
place under the broiler.
Have some leftover cooked broccoli? Add that in. The choice is yours.
Add some extra cheese sprinkled on top of the casserole.
The ideas are endless. 
Remember to cook the pasta before adding to casserole. It will not cook well if added uncooked.
Be sure to cook the flour mixture until bubbly. The flour needs cooked.
When making these types of sauces stir constantly to get a smooth non clumpy result.
Serve as soon as out of the oven. The pasta will be creamy. 

Have a blessed day.