Thursday, December 07, 2006

World's Best Macaroni and Cheese

Ok. So maybe I haven't tried all the macaroni and cheeses of the world, but this one is pretty dang good!

3/4 lb. elbow macaroni (I like Barilla)
5 Tablespoons flour
5 Tablespoons butter, plus couple extra Tablespoons for the topping
2 1/2 or 3 cups (depending on your tastes) shredded Cabot Vintage Choice cheddar cheese*
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon Emeril's essence (recipe follows)
2-3 slices sourdough bread, cut into smallish cubes

1. Boil pasta in large pot of water until al dente; drain and rinse in cold water. Set aside.
2. Meanwhile, begin melting butter in a large skillet/saucepan. Once melted, add the flour. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring, making sure not to brown the flour.
3. Slowly add milk while whisking (ensures it will not clump).
4. Remove from heat. Add 2 - 2 1/2 cups of the cheese (reserve remaining 1/2 cup cheese for topping), stirring until melted.
5. Stir in heavy cream to adjust consistency.
6. Pour macaroni into skillet and coat with the sauce.
7. Pour into a buttered baking dish and top with cubes of bread, remaining 1/2 cup cheese, 2 Tbsp butter (broken into small pieces to help the bread get toasty) and 1 teaspoon of essence.
8. Bake in oven at 350 degrees until hot and bubbly and bread crumbs are toasted; approximately 30-40 minutes.

Emeril's essence:
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.
Yield: about 2/3 cup

*Cook's note: I found this aged cheddar at Costco.

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