For years now, I've been on a quest for a good Macaroni and Cheese recipe. It's still cold and snowy and overcast here in the Great White North, so comfort food is still high on my list.
Years ago when I had three kids under the age of four, I lived in a magical world where dreams sometimes came true and I could have a morning shower before 5 p.m. And in this magical world, I was granted my one true wish - to have a cleaning lady come in once a week and help me scrape the mashed peas off the wall and therefore cling to the last vestiges of order in the swirling chaos I called home.
My cleaning lady Madame S. took pity on me after one particularly stressful week when flu reigned supreme and brought us all to our knees. We were recovering but weak, and before she left that day, even though cooking was not in her job description, she rummaged about in the cupboards and made us a simple Mac and Cheese with tomato slices and slices of Kraft cheese. It was made with love (and more than a soupçon of pity) and was therefore delicious.
I've been trying to find a good Mac and Cheese recipe ever since. Most of the ones I tried were far too rich for my palate. I wanted flavorful but simple, not too heavy but something a step above K.D.
I liked the idea of using Gruyere cheese because it gives a nice bold flavour to quiche, but I couldn't find it the day I shopped, so I improvised and used some pre-packaged fondue, the kind that comes in a foil pouch that you heat and serve. It was actually really good. The fondue gave the Mac and Cheese a richness without making you roll on the couch holding your belly for two hours after dinner.
The amounts are not rocket science. Play around and improvise. If you dare.
1 lb. or so elbow macaroni (I don't measure, I just pour)
6 TBSP butter
1/2 cup flour
5 cups milk (I used 1%)
1 cup cream (I used 15%)
1/2 package Swiss Fondue (package is 400g = 14 oz, so about a cup)
2 1/2 cups grated cheddar (I used a bag of pre-grated triple cheddar)
1 cup of grated cheese to sprinkle on top (I like spicy, so I used Tex Mex cheese for the bite it gives, but use whatever you want, like more Cheddar or even Parmesan and Cheddar mixed)
1 cup of breadcrumbs to sprinkle on top
Preheat oven to 400F.
Grease a 9"x13" pan. Set aside.
Cook elbow macaroni al dente, drain and set aside.
In a medium-sized, heavy saucepan melt butter and add the flour. Cook for 2 minutes without browning the flour. Add the milk and cream and cook on medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 5-10 minutes. Add fondue cheese first and stir until melted, then add grated cheddar. Add cooked macaroni and stir. Pour into greased baking pan. Sprinkle with the cup of grated cheese and cup of bread crumbs.
Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Let it sit for ten minutes and serve.
Sorry the photo looks a bit like the dog vomited upholstery on a plate.
Food photography is a specialized profession for a reason, people.