breaking bread is a universal ritual that brings us together. a good meal has the power to heal us, body and soul. all my cooking comes from the heart.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

suzy's mac & cheese

Here's my basic recipe for Mac & Cheese from scratch.  It's a comfort-food classic and a simple crowd-pleaser for potlucks. Hope you enjoy!


1 1 lb. box elbows (1600 calories)
4 cups / 16 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (1600 calories)
3 eggs (225 calories)
1 cup / 8 oz. light sour cream (300 calories)
1 cup half and half (315 calories)
2 tsp. salt

Total calories: 4,040
Calories per serving (8 servings): 505

Directions: Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Boil elbows but drain 1 minute before shortest time according to package directions (because they will continue to cook when baked in the oven and you don't want them to be mushy). While pasta is cooking, shred cheese and set aside. Put eggs, half-and-half, sour cream, and salt in a small mixing bowl and whisk together well. Once pasta is drained, put in a large mixing bowl and stir cheese into the pasta. Pour dairy mixture into pasta and cheese mixture, and stir together thoroughly. If you like to add anything special, e.g., bacon or ham, this is the time to stir it in. Pour into a baking dish. Bake, covered, 60 to 90 minutes. (Shallower pans will need less time, deep pans will need more; I keep an eye out for the cheese to get a little crispy and browned at the edges.)

I am a big fan of extra sharp cheddar, (my father was a Tillamook addict), but you can mix it up and use a milder cheddar or blend with fancier cheeses likes Gruyere. Since the cheese is the main event, I think this is the time to buy better quality cheese if your budget permits.

If I weren't trying to keep the calories under control, I might take some shredded Parmesan and mix it with bread crumbs for a topping.

I have a square casserole with a glass lid (pictured above) that is perfect for this because it can go from oven to table to fridge, but shallow casseroles or lasagna pans covered with foil will work, too.

Because this recipe has three eggs, it "sets" and gets firm enough to slice. This won't ever replicate soupy Kraft-style Mac & Cheese, but if you (or your kids) prefer a squishier version, cut out an egg and don't bake quite as long. I tried using 2% milk instead of half-and-half, and while it made it much looser and cut out some calories, the cheese didn't emulsify into the other dairy well and was weird and lumpy, so I think cutting out one or two of the eggs and shortening baking time is the better way to achieve a squishier/looser consistency.

Divided into eight servings, they will not be huge. However, with a bowl of tomato soup or a nice salad on the side, or topped with some grilled chicken, it's just right. You can always divide into larger servings or serve as a side dish.

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