Remember, each time you SHARE MY MAC AND CHEESE POST using your favorite social media (such as your own blog, facebook, twitter, google+, pintrest, etc.) and leave a comment with your email address and the link showing me that you shared is a chance for you, my reader, to win! You can do this once per recipe for a total of seven (7) entries. There are two great Mac and Cheese cookbooks at stake: Mac & Cheese by Ellen Brown and Mac and Cheese, Please! by Laura Werlin.
The first entry that I'm sharing was submitted by Sarah at A Taste of Home Cooking. She modified it slightly from Cook's Country and per her blog post, uses it as a quick freezer meal when accompanied by a healthy side salad to balance the meal.
This mac and cheese was pretty classic for those that like the baked type of mac and cheese. Everyone knows that a great mac and cheese has to incorporate good quality cheese that's freshly grated from the block for the smoothest texture so that's where I began with this recipe. But I was surprised by the lack of cheesy flavor given the nice mix of 3 different cheeses in the sauce. Perhaps I just didn't add enough salt "to taste" but the cheese flavor was quite subdued. Instead, the onion flavor was most prominent to me. It was unexpected, but still nice. My favorite part about this recipe was the nice toasted crunch topping which was studded with Parmesan cheese. Not only does it provided a great texture and flavor contrast but it makes the mac and cheese look pretty, too! However, I personally find that the crunch topping comes at the expense of a less creamy mac and cheese and that's just not something I'm willing to trade off. I'm hoping through this contest I'll be able to find that perfect balance but this isn't it for me.
Thank you Sarah for your entry and looking forward to trying the six others still yet to be made!
Edited to add: I actually enjoyed the leftovers of this more than the fresh dish! It seemed to get creamier and more balanced in flavor with time. The cheese flavor was still quite mild but it seemed creamier when reheated in the microwave! That said, perhaps this is indeed a good freezer meal candidate :).
Best Potluck Mac and Cheese
- 3-4 slices hearty white sandwich bread, torn into large pieces
- 8 Tbsp unsalted butter, 4 Tbsps of which are melted
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 lb elbow macaroni (Sarah likes to use cavatappi)
- 5 Tbsp all purpose flour
- 4 cups milk
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmet
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 2 dried bay leaves
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 1/4 cups shredded American cheese (use block American cheese from the deli countery. Prewrapped slices will result in a drier sauce)
- 3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish.
- Pulse bread, melted butter, and Parmesan in a food processor until ground into a coarse crumb. Transfer to a bowl.
- Cook pasta in bowling salted water until al dente. Drain and set aside.
- In the now-empty pasta pot over medium heat, melt remaining 4 tablespoons of butter until foaming. Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly until mixture turns light brown, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in milk, onion, bay leaves, nutmet, and salt and pepper. Cook until mixture, stirring occasionally, until it begins to simmer and is slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove the pot off the heat and then slowly whisk in cheeses, stirring until the cheese fully melts. Stir in cooked macaroni until coated.
- Transfer macaroni and cheese mixture to the prepared baking dish and top with the bread crumb mixture. Bake until cheese is bubbling around the edges and the top is golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.