Monday, October 01, 2012

marconi and cheezles

at some point in my life i used to call it that among friends. i don't remember when or where or who.

but i mention it here because someone came to this blog last week looking for macaroni and cheese. the only reason i can think of is that i was in a public discussion forum talking about a macaroni and cheese that i was making and next thing i knew someone had gotten to this blog by way of the search terms "flask macaroni and cheese", so i am assuming that at least one person was interested.

so here's my recipe for macaroni and cheese. it is very good macaroni and cheese. the recipe is very nonspecific.

things you need:

a box of macaroni. i like shells or farfalle. use anything you like.

3 cups of milk, whole or skim.
3 tablespoons butter (you may use olive oil in a pinch)
a couple o' tablespoons o' flour
spices: at least a tablespoon of dry mustard. use cayenne, paprika, cumin, whatever.
garlic. fresh or from a jar is just fine. a little bit or a whole bunch. it's up to you.

cheese. somewhere between 8 and 14 ounces of whatever cheese you have in the house. cheddar, american, fontina, swiss, brie, kasseri, fontinella, peccorino romano, whatever. i usually like to use up to half american cheese. cut it into chucks that you'll be able to stir in the pot.

tomato, onion, whatever.

maybe some breadcrumbs.


at some point in the process you will have cooked and drained the macaroni. you can use the same pot for boiling the pasta as for making the sauce, but not at the same time.

preheat the oven to 350 degrees. fahrenheit, dude.

melt the butter or hot up your oil.

if you're using onions and you wish them to be mellower, toss them in now and cook until transparent or golden or even a little caramelized. you are under no obligation to use any onions at all.

when you onions are ready or when your butter or oil is hotted up, toss in the flour and the spices. stir it around until the flour has that cooked smell and the spice are fragrant. then toss in your garlic and cook it up until it smells garlicky, and then add some of the milk.

stir it until it's pasty and add more milk. you may want to use a whisk. you're making a roux here. alternately add milk and stir to uniform consistency. at some point it'll be more liquidy than pasty. just be sure to get out any lumps.

if you didn't cook down your onions first, add them now.

the the sauce simmer a little while, maybe eight minutes or so to give the flavorings some time to set in and let it thicken a little. if one of your spices was a bay leaf, take that out now.

turn the heat down under the pot if you haven't already and stir in the cheese until it's all melty. if you are using tomatoes or some other thing, toss that in now.

remove it from the heat and fold in the cooked pasta.

but the whole bunch of it in a 9x13 baking dish (or whatever), top with optional grated hard cheese and optional breadcrumbs and toss it in the oven for about 40 minutes.

when it's brown and bubbly take it out and let it stand a few minutes to catch its breath and then you're good to go.

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