Baked Macaroni & Cheese

The weather in Duluth is quite unpredictable, especially when the seasons are about to change. This week has been no exception. In the 80’s and 90’s with nothing but sunshine over the weekend, down to 50 and rain by Tuesday. I took full advantage of the dreary cold weather and used an appliance that is completely off limits during the summer months: my oven. We don’t have air conditioning and when it’s 80 outside, it’s 85 inside, so use of the oven is a strict no-no. When the high barely reaches 50 degrees, though, it’s my favorite appliance. And it makes one of my new favorite things:

Baked Macaroni & Cheese, a la Alton Brown.

It’s got creamy cheese and crispy breadcrumbs and all of those wonderful, tasty comfort-food calories. A delicious temptation. It takes some prep, but I’m learning that the best food almost always does.

1/2 pound elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon powdered mustard
3 cups milk
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 large egg
12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it’s free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.

Temper in the egg. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.

Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

Remember to save leftovers for fried Macaroni and Cheese.

Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown

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