I’m not sure I know anyone who doesn’t crave a good plate of macaroni and cheese once in a while. It is a true comfort food. Apparently, mac and cheese has been a comfort food for a very, very long time. Harold McGee, in his book On Food and Cooking, includes this quote from Boccaccio writing in The Decameron in the 14th Century:
“in a country called Bengodi…there was a mountain made entirely of grated Parmesan cheese, on which lived people who did nothing but make macaroni and ravioli and cook them in capon broth. And then they threw them down, and the more of them you took, the more you had. And nearby ran a rivulet of white wine whose better was never drunk, and without a drop of water in it.”
Boccaccio, it seems, had pretty intense fantasies about macaroni pasta!
If you’re dreaming of mounds of gooey cheesy pasta on this day after Thanksgiving, here is my adaptation of a very good recipe.
Recipe: Macaroni and Cheese
8 oz. macaroni pasta
3 T. butter
1/4 C. all-purpose flour
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. dry mustard
1/4 t. black pepper
1/8 t. smoked paprika plus additional for sprinkling on top
2 1/2 C. 2 % milk (I was out of milk and used 2 C. half and half and 1/2 C. water)
3 C. grated medium cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and butter a large baking dish. This recipe makes a generous six servings, so you will need a spacious dish in which to cook it.
Boil macaroni pasta until it is al dente. When the macaroni is cooked, drain it in a colander and immediately run cold water over it to stop it from cooking. Return macaroni to the cooking pot and toss with a few pats of butter. Set aside until your sauce is prepared.
Melt butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat and add flour, salt, dry mustard, black pepper and 1/8 t. smoked paprika to the pan. Using a wooden spoon, stir constantly for about three minutes to cook the flour mixture. Whisk milk (or half-and-half and water) into the flour mixture in a thin stream. Whisk constantly for between 10-12 minutes until sauce is thick and smooth. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in 2 C. grated cheese. Stir the cheese into the sauce until the cheese has melted into your white sauce.
Stir sauce into pasta until all the pasta is well-coated.
Put one half of the pasta mixture into your buttered baking pan. Top pasta with 1/2 of the remaining cheese. Spoon the rest of the pasta mixture on top of the cheese and, again, sprinkle with cheese.
Toss cubes of sourdough bread in butter and toast briefy in a pan. Top pasta with buttered sourdough croutons and sprinkle with a small amount of smoked paprika.
Bake 25-30 minutes at 375 degrees F. When it is done, the macaroni and cheese should have a pretty golden top and be bubbling hot. Cool macaroni and cheese for a few minutes and serve.
Here is the link to the original recipe posted on food site Kitchen Treaty: The Best Macaroni and Cheese Recipe Ever