Thursday, July 8, 2010

One-Pot Macaroni & Cheese

My grandmother Cha-Cha would have loved the Internet for so many reasons. She and her cronies in small-town Mississippi practically invented FaceBook, only their version involved party phone lines and evenings on the back porch. Not to mention mornings spent at the beauty parlor.

I think one of her favorite applications for the Internet would have been cooking. So many times I'd enter her kitchen to find the table covered with cookbooks, she in her apron and glasses, poring over them for the perfect recipe to fit her next social occasion, be it a dinner party or her bridge club. Equipped with the Internet and an endless supply of recipes, she would have been dangerous.

... if she used a recipe at all. I'm so like her in that often I skip the formality of a recipe altogether. This is great to fit dishes into the items available in your pantry, but the downfall comes when somebody asks for you to repeat the pattern: the recipe has long been lost and forgotten in your memory among daily minutiae such as whether or not you've paid the cable bill.

So that's why I started this blog.

This is another recipe completely off the top of my head. Most of these start with thoughts like, "Hmm... I like macaroni. And I like cheese. Let's put them together," and go from there. This is one of my favorites. It's hard to mess it up: you can add or delete the cheeses to the consistency you like or change the types of cheese altogether. Just go with what's in your kitchen.

1 12-ounce package elbow macaroni
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheese + 1 cup for topping
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
8 ounces Velveeta
1 cup milk (the thicker the better)
3/4 stick butter
Garlic powder, Cheyenne pepper, salt & pepper to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large pot, boil the macaroni with about 2 Tablespoons salt according to package directions for al dente. I usually cook mine for about 8 minutes or less: just underdone is perfect because if you cook it too much, the casserole will be gooey.
  3. Dump the macaroni into a colander and rinse it off to cool it down and stop the cooking process.
  4. Pour the cooked noodles back into the pot and add the rest of the ingredients, reserving about a cup of shredded cheese for the topping.
  5. Cook on low, stirring occasionally, until all the cheese is melted and the casserole is the consistency you like.
  6. Pour into a greased 8x8 Pyrex dish, top with extra cheese and paprika, and bake on 350 for 25 minutes or until bubbly.
  7. Try not to burn the roof of your mouth!
Photo courtesy of Harold's Catering. I'm sorry I didn't post a photo of mine: Mike ate it all before I had time to take a picture.



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