I received my faithful Food Network newsletter email this morning just as I was sitting down to plan out my trip to the grocery store today. Inside was a link to the 100 top-rated recipes of 2008. Immediately, I ran to check out number 1.
Well, according to this newsletter the top rated recipe of 2008 was Alton Brown’s Baked Mac and Cheese. Really, Food Network? REALLY? Of all the endless deliciousness in the world of food, the top recipe of 2008 is a basic Mac and Cheese? Hmmm…I just don’t know about that. In fact, I thought…no way!
Well, there’s only one way to know for sure…make it myself! I decided to go for it because I’ve been looking for an alternate mac and cheese recipe to Ina’s Grown Up Mac and Cheese. I love that recipe but it’s kind of a once and great while type thing because the ingredients are expensive. I was drawn to this recipe because it just used plain ol’ sharp cheddar. This is Mac and Cheese on the cheap. Sign me up!
The results?? Very good. We both liked it a lot. Is it the best thing I ate in 2008 (even though it’s 2009 now…technicality, my friends) Um, no. As far as homemade mac and cheese goes, which we all know can be prone to extreme nastiness when handled improperly, this was excellent. The cheese sauce was ultra-smooth…not grainy or dry at all. I think that came from really cooking the butter/flour mixture and keeping it moving and then only simmering the milk until it is just thickened, not over cooking it. I will add this to my arsenal. Simple and yummy!
BAKED MAC & CHEESE (Recipe Source: Foodnetwork.com – Alton Brown)
- 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 tablespoon powdered mustard
- 3 cups milk (I used 2%)
- 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
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup panko break crumbs
- 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.