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A Side Dish for the Kids (and Adults Too) – Alton Brown’s Baked Macaroni and Cheese

26 Nov

Let me preface this post by saying I do not like macaroni and cheese. I don’t eat pasta, I don’t eat cheese, so this dish really does nothing for me personally. That being said, it’s always a great idea to have something on the table that you know little ones are going to eat up, and macaroni and cheese always seems to be one of those dishes no matter what the occasion. Why not give the kids something special and offer this one up for them? Also, most adults I know love the stuff as well, so the big batch that this recipe makes might actually be just the answer you need for everyone and you may not even have that much left. According to Alton Brown, this is the most downloaded recipe of all-time at Food Network, so we had to give it a try to see what it was all about.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

8 ounces elbow macaroni

1 tablespoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon powdered mustard

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 cup finely diced onion

1 bay leaf

3 cups whole milk

1 egg

12 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded, divided

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Pepper

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

3 tablespoons butter, melted

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. For the pasta, In a 4-quart pot, cover the macaroni and salt with 1 inch of cold water. Bring the water to a boil over medium heat. When the pasta comes to a boil, begin testing it for doneness. Cook the pasta until it is al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander and rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking.

For the cheese sauce, while the pasta is cooking, melt the butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Once the butter stops bubbling, whisk in the flour and cook until the mixture is pale blonde, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Add the mustard, paprika, onion and bay leaf and whisk to combine. Add the milk, whisking continually for 7 to 8 minutes or until the mixture is slightly thickened. Remove the saucepan from the heat and discard the bay leaf.

In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg. Add a few ounces of the milk mixture to the egg and whisk it to combine. Add another few ounces of the milk mixture to the egg and thoroughly combine. Then add the egg mixture back to the milk mixture and whisk vigorously. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese and season well with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour it into a 4-quart casserole dish. Top the macaroni with the remaining cheese. Toss the breadcrumbs with the melted to butter to coat the crumbs. Sprinkle the macaroni with the breadcrumb mixture in an even layer.

Bake the macaroni and cheese for 30 minutes. Remove it from the oven and allow it to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

As I said, I don’t like it, so I didn’t try it. That task was left to my macaroni and cheese experts, Michelle and Sean, who both adore the meal. They both liked the added texture you got from the breadcrumbs and both really enjoyed the cheese sauce. Their only critique is that they felt the onion was a little too overpowering in the dish. I think for the next go round on this one, we’ll be leaving the onion out of the equation all together. If you like the flavor yourself, and I am sure many people do, by all means leave it in. I think it’s a great idea to have this on your Thanksgiving menu so it gives something a little different to eat for everyone and maybe appeals to the finicky kids who may not eat anything else. It’s certainly worth a try.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for some more recipes. I do have one more stuffing recipe to share and then some ideas for leftovers, including a turkey pot pie and some turkey soup. I already made about 12 cups of stock from the turkeys I have used over the past week or so, so there are plenty of soup options. Until next time, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on November 26, 2013 in Cooking, Dinner, Holidays, One Pot Meals, Pasta, Vegetarian

 

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