"I've discovered that my own little postage stamp of native soil was worth writing about and that I would never live long enough to exhaust it."
- William Faulkner




Monday, February 7, 2011

cheese, please

The Super Bowl was last night. Whoopee. I have never really cared about it. One, I don’t like pro football. Two, I don’t like the idea of knowing that I’m expected to have fun. Three, I typically feel gross after such a high intake of sodium-laced snacks. This year, the commercials sucked, Xtina butchered the National Anthem and the halftime show was lackluster at best. Except for Usher! He rocked it!

Before the game began, I informed Kell that I thought I would pull for the Steelers because Mike Tomlin, their head coach, looks JUST LIKE Omar Epps, who plays Dr. Foreman on House (see photo). But Kell told me that since former MSU Bulldog Donald Lee is a Green Bay Packer, they are who we are supporting. Fine by me.

And...My team won! And in support of the Packers and the great state of Wisconsin, here’s a delicious dish in support of all the Cheeseheads out there!

I’m extremely picky about my macaroni and cheese. As a kid, I didn’t like the powdery stuff, but I LOVED Velveeta shells and cheese. My mom never made homemade M&C, so that’s as close as I got. It’s a part of meat-and-three restaurants all over the South, but not everyone does it right. Every time I order it at a restaurant, Kell likes to inquire if it’s “real.” Just ask me what restaurants in the area do it right, and who does it wrong. I’ll tell you. I don’t like it so creamy that it runs all over my plate. I don’t like it so dry that it’s just baked macaroni. I’d much rather it be tight enough to cut as opposed to scoop. I also like a cheesy crust. I like bread crumbs on top. If it’s too orange, I’m immediately suspicious.

Now, I have matured, as has my palate, and I prefer to make my own. No Velveeta here. No sir.

Mac & Cheese

4 cups cooked elbow macaroni, drained (2 cups uncooked)
4 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup bread crumbs (I like panko)
3 eggs, beaten
½ c sour cream (I used light)
4 tbsp butter
½ tsp salt
½ tsp white pepper
1 cup milk (I used skim)

Preheat oven to 350. Once the mac is cooked and drained, place it into a large bowl. While still hot, add 3 cups cheese and stir to distribute evenly. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients (minus the bread crumbs) and add to the mac mixture. Pour mixture into a 9x13 casserole dish and bake for 30-45 minutes. Top with remaining grated cheese and bread crumbs and bake again until cheese is melted and the casserole is bubbly and golden brown.

If you want to half this recipe, use only one egg and 1 cup of uncooked noodles.

Tips:
Once your water is boiling, add a generous amount of salt. It’s the only chance you’ll have to flavor the pasta itself.
Shred your own cheese! It melts so much better and isn’t as dry as the bagged stuff.
I used white pepper only because I didn’t want little black specks all in my mac.
If you’re feeling fancy, try using cavatappi pasta. It’s a corkscrew tube pasta with ridges that will really hold onto the cheese.
I made this with crumbled bacon this weekend, and it was great too!

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