Macaroni and Cheese

When my son is asked what he would like for a “fun” dinner during our meal planning I can usually count on my one hand the choices that he will pick from. If he had free reign over his meals they would consist of chicken nuggets, hamburgers, pancakes, hot dogs, or macaroni and cheese. I guess that’s why God created parents.

We don’t often have macaroni and cheese because we still don’t do a lot of dairy in his diet, but since we are nearing his birthday (and we usually try a bit of dairy around then) I decided to add it to our menu. I am not a huge fan of the box type mac and cheese, so I decided to go all out and use a recipe from my copy of The P.ioneer Woman Cooks, a recipe that is about as far from the box stuff as you can get.

You can either use all cheddar cheese in this dish, or you can mix and match any cheese you want. I decided to do a 1/2 pound of cheddar, a 1/4 pound of monterey jack, and a 1/4 pound of pepper jack. I swear, that 1/4 pound of pepper jack should not have as big of an influence on those 8 servings of pasta, but holy cow, it did! Not only that, but it resulted in my son not eating more than one bite before stating that he didn’t like the black stuff (ground pepper) in his dinner. It was really the pepper jack cheese but I wasn’t about to admit that to him. On a happier note, he ate the leftovers the next day no problem, and I was amazed at how much more tame the pepper jack cheese was the second time around.

I believe you can find the recipe on her website, but mine came from her cookbook. Enjoy!

Macaroni and Cheese
Source: The Pioneer Woman

4 cups dry macaroni
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk
2 heaping teaspoons dry mustard
1 pound cheddar or other desired cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Cook the macaroni until very firm. The macaroni should be too firm to eat right out of the pot. Drain. (If you’re in a hurry and don’t want to bake the macaroni and cheese, cook it until it’s done.)

In a small bowl, beat the egg.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a large baking dish. (I used a 9-inch square pan.)

In a large pot, melt the butter and sprinkle in the flour. Whisk it together over medium-low heat. Cook for 5 minutes, constantly whisking. Don’t let it burn.

Pour in the milk. Add the mustard and whisk until smooth. Cook for 5 minutes or until very thick, whisking constantly. (We had to cook it for much longer than 5 minutes and finally turned the heat up to medium-high or high, whisking constantly, in order to get it to thicken.) Reduce the heat to low.

Slowly pour 1/4 cup of the sauce into the beaten egg, whisking constantly to avoid cooking the egg. Whisk until smooth. Pour the egg mixture back into the sauce, continuing to whisk. Add in all but 1/2 cup of the cheese and stir until melted. Add the seasonings. Taste the sauce and add more seasonings as nbeeded.

Pour in the cooked, drained macaroni and stir to combine. Pour into the baking dish and top with remaining cheese. (If you fully cooked the macaroni in the first step, then serve immediately.)

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly and golden on top.

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