Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Baked Mac and Cheese, Recklessness, and the 100th Post

Confession time:  I had never had mac n cheese ((from a box or otherwise-- more than a bite anyway)) until 2005.  I'm sure that sounds like blasphemy and like I must have had a terrible childhood.  There was something about the consistency that freaked me out.  I just couldn't tolerate it.  Then in 2005 ((yes, I remember the actual day specifically too)), a box, or actually several boxes, were brought into my house.  The first time I tried to make it ((and I'm talking the add water to the pre-filled carton variety)), I thoroughly screwed it up.  This is why I say that I could not cook at ALL until really quite recently.  If you screw up macaroni and cheese in a microwavable package, there is still hope for you.  #Endtrueconfessions.

What was my point?  Oh yes.  Macaroni and cheese is many people's ultimate comfort food.  I had the honor of making dinner for a girlfriend ((and 8 others)) who has been through quite the ordeal lately.  This occasion required macaroni and cheese.  Specifically, baked mac and cheese with buttered breadcrumbs.  

*Recipe adapted slightly from Alton Brown.

<<Imagine a picture right here of ooey, gooey cheesy pasta with breadcrumbs on top.  Blogger is NOT cooperating with me to load photos.  If I get it to work later, I will add the picture.  GAH.>>

What you need:
1/2 pound elbow macaroni ((or something similar))
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon powdered mustard
3 cups milk
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 large egg
16 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh black pepper

3 tablespoons butter
1 cup panko bread crumbs

The Destructions--oops Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350.

Cook the pasta to the package directions ((like, boil the crap for 10-12 minutes)) and drain.

Chop the onion and set aside.

In a good-sized sauce pan melt 3 tablespoons of butter.  Add in the flour and the powdered mustard and KEEP IT MOVING for 5 minutes.  This is going to seems really ridiculous.  It is kind of a clump of yellow-y stuff and you will think this is the second dumbest thing you've ever done.  ((Feel free to leave the dumbest thing you'e ever done in the comments.))  However, if Alton Brown says to do it that way, we do it that way.  Respect, people.

Add the milk, the onion, and the paprika and allow to simmer for ten minutes.

((We are about to get fancy, don't be scared.))  Temper in the egg.  ((WHAT IN THE BLOODY HELL DOES TEMPER AN EGG MEAN?  Yell at it?  Try to piss it off?))  Tempering means that you make it so that the egg doesn't just "scramble" in the pan.  Start by whisking it in a bowl so that the yolk and white are combined.  Then add some of the hot stuff to that bowl slowly, whisking it at the same time.  Try not to make a mess.  Just add a little at a time so it doesn't cook the egg.  Keep doing this until the egg has reached the heat of the original mixture and it is mixed in.  Bad news, if it clumps up, you should really start over, but I won't judge you if you say eff it, good enough.  

Return the mixture to the pan and add the cheese.  The original recipe called for 12 ounces.  I eyeballed that and decided that wasn't enough so I basically went hog-wild at that point.  I'm guessing I added more than a pound of shredded cheddar.  ((That's fun to say: shredded cheddar.  Shredded cheddar shredded cheddar shredded cheddar.))  Mix it together until the cheese in melted and pull off the heat.

Place the pasta into a sprayed 9 x 13 baking dish.  Pour the cheesy-goodness over it and stir.  

In a small bowl, melt an additional 3 tablespoons of butter.  Add in a cup of panko breadcrumbs ((or regular if that is what you have)) and mix them around with a fork.  Sprinkle on top.  

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.


This is the 100th post!  It is completely astounding to me that since February, as of today, 7,500 different people have viewed some of my nonsense.  Not too shabby.  

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