Yes, gentle readers, I have never made mac and cheese that is not in a box. I've been scared of it - ran and hid, infact, because I could never make alfredo sauce work. I assumed, perhaps wrongly, that if I couldn't do that, I certainly couldn't do this! A friend, who is a great cook and baker (though I have never had the oppourtunity to test her cooking, but I trust her) has promised me a no-fail alfredo sauce. Knowing that, I took heart tonight, and tried to make homemade mac and cheese. What I am really teaching myself to make here, however, is a basic bechamel sauce. From Cooking Club magazine, Feb/March issue, there are instructions on how to make the bechamel sauce. One starts with a roux of 1/4 c butter and 1/4 c flour melting butter and mixing the two together, whisking constantly, for one minute. One then adds, quickly, two cups milk whisking occasionally to incorporate the milk with the roux. Once boiling, one wisks vigorously until sauce is smooth, then one reduces heat to gentle boil and cooks one minute, whisking constantly. Using these basic instuctions, and the recipe below, I am making this weeks recipe. (reading my notes below, can you tell this was inspired by 1. making a bechamel, and 2. using up things in the house?)
Spicey Garlic Mac and Cheese
8 oz pasta (I used shells because they were in the house!)
1/4 c butter
1 large garlic clove, minced (I used a generous 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic from Penzey's)
1/4 c all purpose flour
2 cups whole milk (I used skim, because that is what I had!)
1/4 teaspoon salt (ish..)
1/8 teaspoon pepper (ish...)
1 1/2 c slightly packed shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese (recipe calls for shredding your own, preferably over two years old. I had a open, needed to be used package of Crystal Farms sharp cheddar shredded cheese, which I used)
1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (I used Franks brand, and very ish on the 1/8 teaspoon...I like hot pepper sauce!)
make pasta the way you like it. When you take pasta off to drain, turn on burner and start melting butter in pot big enough to hold sauce. Make Bechamel as described above, adding the hot sauce and cheddar cheese at the very end. Whisk constantly until cheese is melted. Either pour sauce over noodles or add noodles to sauce pan. Serve immediately.
I would definately make this again, though I would change a few things. First, there is WAY too much sauce for 8 oz. noodles! There was drowning! Second, there wasn't enough hot sauce, so I added some red pepper flakes and a bit more cracked black pepper. If I had to do again, i'd either double the noodles or 2/3 the sauce. (Yes, I realize that ratio doesn't quite work out :P) I also think it would be tasty the way the original recipe stated, baked. The original recipe had you put all this in a greased casserole dish, then put garlic croutons on the top, and bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly. This might be tasty if you added some red peppers and green peppers, and some bacon, then baked w/ garlic croutons on top. Yup...I will try that itteration next!
Hrm...what if you put tater tots on top...is that too much starch?