Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Thomas Jefferson and Macaroni and Cheese!

Well, it's official, my kids are out of school for the summer. Good bye running errands alone. Good bye peace and quiet. Good bye clean house. But, it's not all bad! Hello not having to make school lunches! Hello not having to run around like a maniac every morning! Hello having help in the kitchen! Hello getting to play games and watch movies whenever we want! Awesome! So, for my little "angels," I wanted to make their favorite meals on the last day of school. For my oldest, Pork Meatball Banh Mi, and for my youngest, classic American-style Macaroni and Cheese!

Macaroni and Cheese is generally credited to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who supposedly came up with combining these two foods. It was first recorded in an English cookbook in the 14th century, known as "makerouns." In the late 18th century, it was quite chic in Paris, where Thomas Jefferson encountered it, as well as in northern Italy, and was considered only for the upper class. Jefferson was a huge fan! So much so, that in 1793, he commissioned American ambassador, William Short, to buy a macaroni machine! Apparently, a bad purchase, because he soon started importing Italian macaroni and Parmesan cheese for use at his Monticello home. In 1802, he even served it at a state dinner! In 1824, it appeared in The Virginia Housewife cookbook, by Mary Randolph, Jefferson's cousin! Since then, it has become extremely popular in America, and is a staple along-side barbecue, soul food, and with the invention of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese in 1937, a favorite of children everywhere! This recipe for "Macaroni and Cheese" is extremely creamy and delicious! It is so good, that sometimes I even serve it baked in individual dishes as a main course, along with a simple green salad. Tres chic! I'm sure Jefferson would approve!


Macaroni and Cheese

Serves 6-8, as a main course, and 10-12, as a side

Ingredients:
For the crumb topping, optional
6 ounces Panko bread crumbs
3 tablespoons melted butter

For the mac and cheese
1 pound large elbow macaroni
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
5 cups milk
8 ounces (2 cups) Monterey Jack cheese, freshly shredded; or, to be fancy, substitute equal amount Gouda! *and a drizzle of white truffle oil at the end, wouldn't hurt, either!
8 ounces (2 cups) sharp cheddar cheese, freshly shredded
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Directions:
For the crumb topping (optional)
Mix together the Panko and butter in a small bowl. Set aside.

For the mac and cheese
Bring a large pot of water and the salt to a boil. Cook the pasta until tender, according to package directions. Drain in a colander and set aside.

In the pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat until foaming. Add the flour, mustard, and cayenne, and whisk constantly for about 1 minute, to remove the flour taste. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly to prevent any lumps. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly. Once it has reached a full boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened to the consistency of heavy cream, about 3-5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and whisk in the cheeses, the 1 teaspoon salt, and white pepper. Add the pasta and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is steaming and heated through, about 3-5 minutes. You can serve it now, if you like.


Preheat your broiler, and transfer the mac and cheese to a broiler safe 9"x13" baking dish, or individual containers. Sprinkle evenly with the crumb topping. Broil until the crumbs are golden brown, about 3-5 minutes, depending on your broiler. (You may want to keep your eye on it!) Cool for about 5 minutes before serving. Yummy!

4 comments:

  1. I normally really don't like mac and cheese, but I had this a few days ago and it was actually really really good! I would recommend this to everyone whether you like mac and cheese or not!

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  2. I'm so happy you enjoyed it!

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  3. Just like Grandma used to make. yummy.

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  4. These foods are good for health. Informative and interesting which we share with you so i think so it is very useful and knowledgeable.

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