Sunday, November 20, 2016

Baked Mac and Cheese Casserole

This is the Lawrence family's FAVORITE mac and cheese. It comes from the Cook's Country magazine, and is surprisingly UN-fussy for an America's Test Kitchen recipe.  It's a baked casserole with a bread crumb topping.....and that means it has to cook for 25 minutes. The recipe also calls for 20 minutes to set before cutting into it. Do not taking this setting time for granted!! With the resting time, you will have a more solid, freestanding piece of mac and cheese casserole (instead of a melting pool on your plate). Because this recipe takes over an hour from start to finish, we save it for weekends...and have precious few leftovers! 

The mustard, cayenne, and Worcestershire sauce lend an interesting flavor. This casserole sets up to be pretty solid. Rather than stringy, pull-apart cheesy, the sauce is more of a creamy b├ęchamel. It is so rich and tasty.

Macaroni and Cheese Casserole
from America's Test Kitchen

8 oz elbow macaroni
2 c shredded mild cheddar cheese
2 t cornstarch
4 T unsalted butter
1/2 c panko bread crumbs
1/2 c onion, finely chopped
3 T flour
2 t mustard
1/8 t cayenne pepper
2 c water
1 c heavy cream
2 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
2 t Worcestershire sauce
1 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Bring 4 quarts water to boil. Add macaroni and 1 T salt. Cook for 5 minutes. Drain macaroni and set aside.
3. Toss mild cheddar cheese with cornstarch and set aside.
4. Melt 1 T butter over med-low heat. Add the breadcrumbs and cook until golden (~4 min). Set those aside.
5. Now heat the saucepan up to med-high heat and melt the remaining 3 T butter. Cook the onion until soft (~3 min). Stir in flour, mustard, 1/2 t salt, 3/4 t pepper, and cayenne. Cook for 1 minute stirring constantly.
6. Whisk in water and cream. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to med-low. Cook until thickened (~5min).
7. Remove sauce from heat and whisk in mild cheese/cornstarch mixture until melted. Then whisk in eggs, yolk, and Worcestershire sauce.
8. Add macaroni and stir until combined.
9. Transfer the mac and cheese to an 8-inch square baking dish. Sprinkle with sharp cheddar, then breadcrumbs. Bake until well browned and set (20-25 min).
10. Let set for 20 minutes. Then serve!

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