Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Kerri's Baked Macaroni and Cheese

- 2/3 16 oz. box of elbow macaroni (any pasta you like will work)
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 stick salted butter (1/2 cup)
- 2 tsp. ground mustard
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 to 2 cups of milk (whole is great, but I use 2%)
- 4 cups shredded cheese
- 5 pinches of salt
- Additional 2 tbsp. salted butter
- 1 cup Breadcrumbs
- Pepper to taste

1 Medium sized pot for boiling pasta
1 Large Skillet
1 Wisk
1 Pasta strainer (optional)
1 casserole dish

Heat oven to 400°

Fill Pot halfway with water and bring to high heat. Once water is boiling add 2 pinches of salt and a turn of olive oil. Add macaroni and stir until boiling again.
Set kitchen timer for 8 minutes. Pasta should be slightly underdone, or al dente. The best way to check the pasta is to bite it and chew. It should be firm but not crunchy. Also, if you squeeze it and it bounces back to shape, it's not over cooked. Drain water and wash pasta with cold water. Set aside.

Melt butter in the skillet over medium heat. Once butter is completely melted and bubbling, add mustard and flour. Lower heat to medium low. Stir with wisk until the consistency is almost paste-like and bubbling. (Add in more flour to thicken. I eyeball it.) Slowly wisk in heavy cream and stir until it thickens evenly. It should thicken up to a smooth paste. Stir for about 1 minute, and slowly wisk in the milk. Keep wisking as you add 3/4 of the cheese, (about 3 cups) a handful at a time. Add in Salt and Pepper to taste. Bring the heat back up to medium and wisk until the cheese just begins to melt.

Return the pasta to the pot. Remove cheese mixture from heat and pour over the pasta. Combine the pasta and cheese thoroughly and pour into the casserole dish, spread it out evenly. Sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese over the macaroni.

In the microwave, heat the breadcrumbs and 2 tbsp butter for about 20 seconds. Remove and stir until the butter is completely incorporated. Sprinkle evenly over the dish.

Bake on center rack for 25-35 minutes, depending on how toasted you like the top.