Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

My four year old ate the healthiest of his life on our recent trip to Disney.  Every day he had macaroni and cheese--when we forced him to eat something else, he ate either a cheeseburger or hot dog... maybe he ate pizza.  Somehow, all this macaroni and cheese hasn't made him HATE the dish, but now he expects to have it daily. 

Meanwhile, my husband dislikes macaroni and cheese.  I'm not quite sure what it is he doesn't like about it--pasta, good... cheesey goodness, gooooood.  Since I don't really know what it is he doesn't like about it, I keep trying different versions of mac and cheese to try and find one we all will like.

Lately, he's been watching a lot of Good Eats, which combines two of his loves, food and science.  He really likes Alton Brown, so I figured trying his version of macaroni and cheese would be a hit.

I got experimental and tried a new product in this macaroni and cheese.  I went with  Barilla Piccolini Mini Pipe with Carrots and Squash.

The mini pipe was so cute!  I noticed a little bit of an unusual taste when I tasted them without any sauce, and placed it as the sweetness of the squash.  I asked my husband what he thought and he didn't notice a flavor difference, but wondered what was up with the color of the pasta.  Good job, Barilla, for making a tasty pasta that sneaks in some veggies!  (Is it wrong that I really wish it was whole wheat too?)

So, the results of Alton Brown's recipe.  It made a lot a lot a LOT of dishes.  I love macaroni and cheese too, and thought this was very good.  I used about 4 ounces of monterey jack cheese in addition to 8 ounces of cheddar, which may or may not have made an impact.

I thought this was a good, if labor intensive, macaroni and cheese.  I really liked the panko bread crumb crunchies on top.  My four year old ATE DINNER!!  And then he said he didn't like it, because he ONLY likes elbow macaroni in his macaroni and cheese.  Aye.  The one year old loved his and screamed for more.  My husband finished his plate, but said he really didn't like it.

See, this is why I give you everyone's impressions--we ate the exact same meal, and all had different thoughts on it.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese by Alton Brown


  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon powdered mustard
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 large egg
  • 12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh black pepper



Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it's free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.
Temper in the egg**. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.
Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

**To temper an egg, crack the egg into a bowl, mix it up with a fork, then add some of the hot stuff (that's called a roulx), mix it in, then add it all SLOWLY back into the original pot.  This keeps the egg from scrambling!**

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