The ultimate comfort food

Moms have been pleasing their families by making scratch mac and cheese for decades. And since the late 1930s when Kraft first started making packaged macaroni and cheese, many moms have served make-do versions on busy nights when they lacked the necessary time to make the real thing. With generations of us having grown up eating these cheesy pots of noodles, macaroni and cheese has become if not the singular dish that epitomizes comfort food, one of the top 10.

I think my version is one of the best — B is your mystery letter for today. Not only is it supremely cheesy and smooth, but this mac and cheese can be customized to suit your own definition of macaroni and cheese. For those who grew up on the packaged stuff, it can be served creamy and slightly fluid from the cooking pot. And, for those who crave the old school, Mom’s kitchen variety, this version can be topped with buttery crumbs and baked until the sauce penetrates the noodles and a golden crust forms. Either way, this mac and cheese is sublimely delicious and iconically orange!

For more classic and inspiring pasta recipes, check out Ruth Daniel’s Presto Pasta Night, a Friday feature in her Once Upon a Feast Blog.

Double Cheddar Mac and Cheese
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

3 cups (750 mL) dry macaroni noodles
2 tbsp (30 mL) butter
1/4 cup (50 mL) very finely chopped or coarsely grated onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp (2 m L) pepper
1/2 tsp (1 mL) nutmeg
1 tbsp (15 mL) all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups (375 mL) milk
1 pkg (250 g) cold pack Cheddar cheese
1 cup (250 mL) shredded aged Cheddar cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil Add the macaroni and cook according to package directions. Drain well.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a deep skillet set over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, pepper and nutmeg. Sprinkle the flour evenly over the onion mixture and blend well. Add a splash of the milk and blend until smooth.

Gradually add remaining milk, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Break up the cold pack cheese and add it a little at a time to the milk mixture until completely incorporated. Gradually add the grated cheese, stirring well between additions. When all the cheese is incorporated into the sauce, remove pan from heat.

Blend the macaroni into the sauce mixture, stirring until evenly coated. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Variation: For baked Mac and Cheese, transfer the macaroni mixture to to a buttered 8-cup (2L) casserole dish. Preheat the oven to 400F (200C). Toss 1 cup (250 mL) fresh bread crumbs with 2 tbsp (30 mL) each melted butter and chopped fresh parsley. Sprinkle the crumb mixture evenly over the casserole. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until bubbly and browned.

Cook once, eat twice: Double this recipe and freeze one half as a casserole for another time. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before baking, covered in foil, for about 40 minutes or until heated through. Broil until browned on top.

Text and recipe excerpted from Dana’s Top Ten Table: 200 Fresh Takes on Family-Favorite Meals. Published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. Copyright (c) 2007 by Dana McCauley. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.

See me preparing this dish on Daytime Toronto:


15 Responses to The ultimate comfort food

  1. […] of the foods I included in my new cookbook Dana’s Top Ten Table tops in the savoury department. Macaroni and Cheese, Meat Loaf, Grilled Pork Ribs, Swiss Steak, Cheesy Broccoli Bake, Chicken Cacciatore, Oven Fried […]

  2. cas says:

    even after watching the video, i am still completely in the dark as to what “cold pack cheddar” is. is this a processed cheese? is it widely available in the US?

  3. danamccauley says:

    No, it’s the soft Scottish Cheddar sometimes sold as Old Nippy in the deli and in a red container as McLaren’s Cold Pack Cheddar in the Dairy Section.

  4. Cheese Mac says:

    This is a great, sophisticated version of the good ol’ mac and cheese. The best thing is it doesn’t take very long at all. Thanks!

  5. danamccauley says:

    Cheese Mac: You are welcome!

  6. […] Here is Dana, my new Chef friend from Canada! If you want to get ahold of this fabulous recipe you can get it at Dana McCauley’s Blog. […]

  7. […] the roasted chicken soup I mentioned on Monday, mustard and apple jelly glazed rack of pork, pizza, macaroni and cheese and roasted rosemary scented butternut squash. It’s been great! I didn’t realize how much I […]

  8. […] cheese secrets It’s no secret that my little family loves mac and cheese. I’ve shared my favourite recipe here and demo’d it on TV. The secret to the ultra cheesy taste and colour of my mac and cheese is cold […]

  9. Sandy Avvari says:

    Dana, will be making your mac and cheese for dinner tonight! Can’t wait!

  10. […] Post some recipes.  If you don’t have any, here are some great fall soups to try. Also, check out Dana McCauley’s food blog for a great recipe for my second favorite comfort food. Mac & Cheese!   Leave a […]

  11. […] autumn favourites: • Double cheddar mac ‘n’ cheese • Zesty lasagna • Roasted Chicken broth for soup • Lemon parsnip soup • Sausages with […]

  12. cookbooks says:

    You’ve done a great job, and i appreciate it, thank you very much my freind. Keep the good food flowing!

  13. cabinet depth refrigerators…

    The ultimate comfort food « Dana McCauley’s food blog…

  14. built-in refrigerator…

    […]The ultimate comfort food « Dana McCauley’s food blog[…]…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: