BY CAMILLE ORRICHIO LOCCISANO
As we leave behind the summer months and enter the cooler season of autumn, it is time to think about major comfort food. For me, this always brings mac ‘n’ cheese to mind. This dish is especially welcoming for back-to-school week when parents need to prepare easy meals on busy weeknights.
My love of mac ’n’ cheese began in early childhood. As an adult, I have tried many recipes in many variations. This recipe is basic and great to serve to kids of all ages.
I find that using a simple American cheese works really well. However, do not hesitate to reinvent your mac ’n’ cheese. Experiment with other cheeses, such as Gruyère or Asiago. Get creative by adding lobster or pancetta. Tossing in carrots or broccoli is an excellent idea and a great way to include veggies in your meal.
The possibilities are endless!
MAC ‘N’ CHEESE
1 pound elbow pasta
1/2 cup butter
1 small onion, diced
1/2 cup flour
4 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
4 cups American cheese, grated
In a large pot, boil water for the elbows. When water begins to boil, add salt liberally. Let water return to a boil, and cook elbows until al dente. Drain well.
Meanwhile, in a separate pot, warm butter over medium heat. Stir in onion and cook until tender. Mix in flour and whisk for a few moments, until it lightly browns in color.
In another pot, heat the milk just until it boils and pour the boiling milk into the pot with butter, onions and flour. Sprinkle in nutmeg. Stir well, and add American cheese. Simmer and stir until thick.
Prepare a baking dish by lightly greasing the inside with butter and dusting evenly with bread crumbs. Mix melted cheese mixture with elbow pasta and pour into the baking dish. Sprinkle top lightly with bread crumbs.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350°F for 35 minutes and until golden brown on top.
Camille’s Tip: For mac ‘n’ cheese, it is best to purchase your cheese as a block and then grate it. This will allow for a much smoother cheese sauce.