Sunday, June 16, 2013

Southern-Style Homemade Baked Macaroni & Cheese


My homemade macaroni and cheese, fresh out of the oven

As a Carolina girl, I grew up with homemade macaroni and cheese.  I have a large extended family on my mother’s side.  When we had family dinners, there were always multiple macaroni and cheese casseroles, or what many of my relatives call “cheese pies”.  All of my aunts made baked mac & cheese, but I don’t think any of them used a recipe!  One year I decided to change that.  When I made my mac & cheese that year for Thanksgiving, I decided to measure everything and write it down.  Depending on how good it was, I could refine my recipe.  Mission accomplished!  I have been using my recipe ever since. 

Those of us who know real macaroni and cheese, as opposed to mac & cheese out of a box, know that the homemade baked version is an exquisite treat.  I especially love the souffl√©-like texture when it’s fresh out of the oven. 


Macaroni & Cheese Ingredients

2 cups cooked macaroni
1 can evaporated milk

2 eggs, beaten

8 oz cheese

1/3 stick butter


Instructions

1- Preheat oven to 350°. 

2- Grease 2 quart baking dish.  Add butter and place in oven to soften.  Add cooked macaroni and stir to combine with butter. 

3- Add milk and beaten eggs.  Stir to distribute. 

4- Add shredded or cubed cheese.  I use 4 oz Cracker Barrel sharp cheddar, and 4 oz medium cheddar or Colby.  Stir to combine. 

5- Bake 30 minutes at 350°.  Remove from oven and stir thoroughly.  Increase oven temperature to 400°.  Return to oven for 20 minutes. 


Variations

For large holiday meals, I triple this recipe, except the eggs.  I use 4 large eggs with 3 cans of milk, 1 stick of butter, 6 cups of cooked macaroni, 12 oz sharp cheddar and 12 oz medium cheddar.  Cook 40 minutes at 350°, and 40 minutes at 400°. 

For a super quick cooking version, I use an 11” X 13” pan, and cook about 30 minutes.  My version produced somewhere between ½” and 1” thickness of mac and cheese.  You can have fun with this one by adding a square for a special take on a cheeseburger or grilled cheese. 

 Mac & Cheese Burger (personal photo)


White Mac & Cheese

I’ve made a gorgonzola version that was a completely different take for me on macaroni and cheese.  There are endless possibilities. 

2 cups cooked macaroni
1/3 stick butter

2 eggs
1 can milk

3 oz gorgonzola cheese
4 oz mozzarella

Bake as above. 

Serving of Gorgonzola Mac & Cheese



Dunbar Macaroni

One of my favorite meals from my elementary school cafeteria was Dunbar Macaroni.  I use leftover mac and cheese and make my own version.  I used to have enough mac & cheese left over from when I made the huge portion for Thanksgiving for my Texas friends’ gathering.  Over the period of a couple years however, my mac & cheese has gained a reputation, and there are no longer any leftovers.  Now I buy extra cheese and stuff, and just make a small portion (with 2 cups macaroni) just for Dunbar. 

Brown 1 ½ lbs of ground beef.  Add 1 can of diced tomatoes and 1 can of spaghetti sauce.  Simmer for about an hour, until meat softens.  Add in chunks of leftover macaroni and cheese.  Break it apart as it softens. 

Add chunks of mac & cheese to tomato and meat sauce, and
break apart as it softens

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