Sunday, January 11, 2009

Adult Macaroni and Cheese

I call this "adult" macaroni and cheese because I usually make it with a cheese other than the standard cheddar - gruyere, emanthaler, parmesan, asiago. It makes a great side dish on a cold winter day!  This recipe is based on one from The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins with my own variations.


1 pound penne or other pasta
4 cups milk
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
6 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp paprika
Salt and pepper
12 ounces cheese, grated


1. Boil the pasta in a large stock pot with salted water.  Use the time alotted on the package but subtract one minute - you want the pasta to be slightly underdone.

2. Drain the pasta and set aside in a large bowl.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees.

4. In a large sauce pan (or in a large microwave-safe glass measuring cup in the microwave), bring the milk to a boil and immediately remove from heat.

5. Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over low heat.  Add the flour and whist over low heat for about 5 minutes but make sure it doesn't brown.  Remove from heat.

6. Add the hot milk to the flour mixture, and whist well.  Add 1/2 tsp of the paprika, season with salt and pepper, and return the pan to the heat.  Cook over medium heat, constantly whisting for about 5 minutes or until mixture thickens.  Remove from heat.

7. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce.

8. Butter a 13 x 9 x 2 glass baking dish or casserole and pour in the pasta/sauce mixture.

9.  Sprinkle the grated cheese over the pasta and then sprinkle with the remaining paprika, salt and pepper.

10.  Place the dish on a baking sheet and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes until hot.

11.  Remove the dish and if desired, place under a broiler - watching constantly - until the top is golden brown, about 3 minutes.

Serves 8.

Variations: look for hard or semi-hard cheeses to use but I have also used some cream cheeses such as fontina.  When using a creamier cheese, I mix the cheese into the pasta instead of sprinkling on top.  Also consider using cheese combinations such as asiago and gorgonzola.  Another variation is to add a can of chopped, drained tomatoes to the pasta mixture as well as cooked mushrooms - the goal is to add items which won't contribute moisture to the dish and make it soupy.