A Perennial Favorite: Mac and Cheese

My husband loves macaroni and cheese, so when my mother came across this recipe in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (years ago), she sent it to us without even trying it. I first made it when some friends were coming over for dinner and it was a big hit.

Now I often make this for clients, especially those who have children, though it’s popular with almost everyone. I have served it in aluminum muffin cups for family picnics (as shown here, with chicken skewers), or as a side dish with everything from roasted chicken to my Turkey Meatloaf.

I can’t take credit for this recipe—it’s basically Beecher’s “World’s Best” Mac & Cheese—which is great just as it is, but I can’t resist tweaking things a little, so this is a minor variation on the original.

Mac and Cheese
serves 8 as a side dish (or 4 as an entrée)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
14 ounces Flagship cheese or other sharp cheddar, grated (about 1 3/4 cups)
2 ounce Just Jack cheese, grated (1/4 cup)
Note: I like to substitute gruyere for jack cheese
1 teaspoon coarse salt
½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
12 ounces penne pasta (about 3 ¼ cups)
2 ounces (1/2 cup) Flagship cheese, grated
2 ounces (1/2 cup) Just Jack cheese, grated, or blue cheese, crumbled

To prepare sauce, melt butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat and whisk in flour. Continue whisking and cook for 2 minutes. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly. Cook until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Add cheeses, salt, chili powder, and garlic powder. Stir until cheese is melted and all ingredients are incorporated, about 3 minutes. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter or oil an 8-inch baking dish. Cook penne 2 minutes less than package directions. (It will finish cooking in the oven.) Rinse pasta in cold water and drain well.

Combine pasta and sauce in a medium bowl; mix carefully but thoroughly. Scrape the pasta into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle top with cheeses.

Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Tina’s Tip: The last time I made this recipe, I portioned it in a greased muffin tin and placed the entire tin in the freezer.  After it was frozen, I removed the portions and put them back in the freezer in a freezer bag. When ready to use, I reheat them in a 350-degree oven for 15-20 minutes.

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