Tuesday, April 6, 2010

What's Cooking: Everyday Food Macaroni and Cheese

{image via here}

With all the leftover ham I have from Easter, I thought this was a great way to use some of it up. (Sadly, I still have A LOT more...) But even if you don't have leftover ham, this mac and cheese recipe is so good you should go out and get some. Just good comfort food, that goes together easily, freezes great and is excellent leftover. You can't go wrong.

Ingredients serves 8

Course salt and pepper
1 lb elbow pasta, cooked and drained
4 T butter
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 c. flour
4 c milk
1/8 t cayenne pepper (optional)
1 1/4 c (5 oz) cheddar cheese, shredded
1 1/4 c (5oz) white cheddar cheese, shredded
8 oz ham, diced
2 slices white bread

If you like, use just one type of cheddar or mix with another melting cheese, such as pepper Jack, Muenster, Swiss, or mozzarella.

  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Cook pasta, and drain; reserve. Meanwhile, in a 5-quart heavy pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Whisk in flour to coat onion. In a slow steady stream, whisk in milk until there are no lumps.
  2. Cook, whisking often, until mixture is thick and bubbly and coats the back of a wooden spoon, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in cayenne, if using, and 1 cup each yellow and white cheddar cheese. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
  3. Toss pasta with cheese mixture; fold in ham. Transfer to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or individual dishes. Set aside.
  4. In a food processor, pulse bread until large crumbs form. Toss together with remaining ¼ cup each white and yellow cheddar, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Top pasta with breadcrumb mixture. Bake until top is golden, about 30 minutes.

Note: This recipe makes enough to fill eight 12-to-16-ounce baking dishes. Divide the macaroni and cheese evenly, sprinkle with topping, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden.

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