Last night I was overcome by a hormonal hankering for macaroni and cheese. Not that boxed bullshit, but the real, live, grate your own cheese kind.
So even though I was tired out from work and we didn’t have all the ingredients on hand, I made it work anyway. WITHOUT a trip to the store! Read on for the secrets.
Dusty box of elbow macaroni? Check. 4 butt ends of different cheeses drying out in the fridge? You know it! Heels of bread from the freezer for bread crumb topping? Always got those. Flour and butter to make the cheese sauce? Yep. Just one, tiny missing item – milk. Well, shit. I usually have a shelf full of non-dairy milks to choose from but I’ve neglected my larder in recent weeks. I did have half and half but making mac and cheese solely with that had my arteries stiffening in fear from all of that fat. What to do? Broth in a jar to the rescue!
Here are the ingredients and how I made it work:
- Small-ish dry pasta shape of your liking
- Salt and pepper
- Dry mustard
- Half and half
- Broth (I use the kind that comes in a jar and is prepared with water)
- Sour cream (optional)
- Grated hard cheese(s)
- Bread remnants
- Garlic bread seasoning
- Pinch of parmesan cheese
Cook the pasta in salted water until just short of al dente. (I shaved about 2 minutes off of the box instructions). When done, drain and set aside right in it’s cooking pot with a little olive oil or butter to prevent stickage.
Heat the oven to 350 and butter a baking dish or do cute little individual ramekins like I did.
While pasta cooks, toast bread and apply generous amount of butter and garlic bread seasoning (I like Johnny’s Garlic Spread. Buy it at Costco). Set aside to cool.
In a saucepan, add equal amounts of butter and flour, melt over lowish-medium heat until it bubbles. Then add a bit of dry mustard powder if you have it and a pinch of nutmeg. Cook for another minute until you can smell the nutmeg -yum.
Make a mixture of approximately 3 parts broth (any variety you like, I used chicken but I bet that roasted garlic one would be amazing) to 1 part half and half and a dollop of sour cream, if you have it. Whisk broth mix into flour mix and keep whisking until it starts to thicken. Once it is all nice and hot, add the grated cheeses and keep whisking until it is all nicely smooth and creamy. Taste for salt and pepper.
Pour sauce into pasta pot and mix it all together. Taste again for salt and pepper. Pour that creamy dreaminess into whatever baking dish you are using.
Finish the bread crumbs: Tear the toast into chunks and use a blender or food processor to blend into crumbs. Stir in a bit of parmesan. Top pasta with this golden loveliness and bake uncovered in the oven until all is bubbly and the bread crumbs are crisp. Everything is cooked, so shouldn’t take too long.
Let is cool a bit and set up for best results, even though that restraint is incredibly hard to achieve. For evidence, see the burn on the roof of my mouth.