Monday, August 11, 2014

Monday Meal: Hank's Mac & Cheese

Posted By on August 11, 2014, 1:44 AM

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My son, Hank, like most American kids, loves macaroni and cheese. And I've tried many, many different recipes - some successful, others not so much. 

Well, of all the variations on classic mac & cheese that I've experimented with, Hank likes this one the best and so does just about everyone else who's tries it. 

This recipe is slightly more complicated than most, but trust me - the addition of the egg and taking care while making the sauce will result in a creamy, delicious macaroni and cheese that will win you plenty of praise. 

A note about the cheese: You could use one type of cheese - say mild, medium or sharp cheddar. However, I like to experiment with different cheese combinations. It's also a good way to get rid of some of the cheese that might be getting old in the fridge. For example, in this recipe I used a five-cheese combo which included mild Cheddar, Gruyere, Beehive SeaHive, Beehive Big John's Cajun, and aged Asiago. 

Ingredients: 

4 cups dried macaroni or other pasta (a 16 oz. package)

1 egg

4 Tbs unsalted butter

1/4 cup flour

2 1/2 cups milk

1 lb. grated cheese (see cheese note above)

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper, or more to taste

2 1/2 tsp mustard powder

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or other chile powder

1 tsp bacon fat (optional)

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Method: 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 

Cook the macaroni or other pasta according to package directions until not quite al dente. The macaroni should be firm. If the instructions say to cook it 8-10 minutes, cook it for 6-8. 

Drain the macaroni and set it aside. 
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In a large oven-proof sauce pan or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. 
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While the butter is melting, crack the egg into a small bowl and beat lightly. 
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Whisk the flour into the melted butter and cook, stirring, until you have a light roux - 5-7 minutes.
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Pour the milk into the pan with the butter and flour. Whisk for 7-10 minutes until the sauce thickens. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
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Take 1/4 cup of the sauce out of the pot and pour it slowly into the bowl with the egg, whisking so you don't curdle or scramble the egg. Whisk until the egg sauce is smooth. 
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Pour the egg mixture back into the sauce pan and stir until well blended. 
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Next, add my optional secret weapon: a teaspoon of bacon fat. Like my parents and grandparents, I keep a container next to the stove with leftover bacon fat to add flavor to dishes like this. 
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Dump all of the cheese into the pot with the sauce. 
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Stir until the cheese is completely melted. 
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Add the salt, pepper, mustard powder and cayenne and stir. 
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Pour the cooked macaroni into the pot and stir well to coat the pasta with the cheese. 
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Now, you could serve and macaroni and cheese just like this and it will taste great. However, I like to continue to cook it in the oven so that the cheese gets bubbly and lightly browned and crunchy on top. 
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Put the macaroni and cheese into the preheated oven and let it cook for 20 minutes, or until bubbly and browned a little. 
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Enjoy! 
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Photos by Ted Scheffler


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