A staple of American cuisine – Macaroni and Cheese is one of our favorite home-cooked meals!
Thomas Jefferson discovered the dish while traveling abroad. Upon returning to Monticello, he planned to serve it for an important state dinner. He imported pasta, parmesan cheese and olive oil.
James Hemings was Jefferson’s chef and slave. Hemings was the first American to train as a chef in France. With his sophisticated techniques of French classical cooking, he prepared a “macaroni pie” for prominent guests at Monticello, Jefferson’s private mountaintop home and plantation in Virginia.
Until the late 1800s, it remained a recipe for upper classes. Once pasta was broadly available more people enjoyed macaroni and cheese. By the 1940’s, it became a hearty, inexpensive meal for the working classes.
Tips for the best Macaroni and Cheese:
- Select the best-quality butter, cheddar cheese, and pasta.
- Make homemade breadcrumbs with day-old sourdough bread.
- Make creamy béchamel sauce with a butter/flour roux and hot milk.
Steps for Creamy Macaroni and Cheese:
- Toss homemade breadcrumbs with melted butter.
- Boil pasta in lightly salted water until a little under al dente.
- Scald milk.
- Make a béchamel sauce, add the grated cheese to create a Cheese Sauce Mornay.
- Pour the cheese sauce mornay over the cooked pasta.
- Pour into a lightly greased baking dish.
- Top with bread crumbs and sprinkle with paprika.
- Bake until bubbly and golden brown.
A staple of American cuisine – Macaroni and Cheese – make some today!
Macaroni and Cheese
A classic French sauce, grated cheese, macaroni and topped with bread crumbs - delicious, comforting and one of America's favorite home-cooked dishes!
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
- 4 tablespoon butter
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 quart 2% or whole milk
- salt, freshly ground pepper and nutmeg to taste
- 6 cups 20 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated or mixed Gruyere and cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish. Set aside.
In a 3-quart saucepan, cook elbow macaroni in lightly salted boiling water just under al dente, about 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.
Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, being careful not to boil it.
In a skillet set over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter; add bread crumbs and toss to coat. Set aside.
Make the bechamél sauce:
In a heavy based saucepan set over medium-low heat, melt 4 tablespoons butter, whisk in the flour. Cook 1 - 2 minutes until foaming but not browned; let cool.
Strain the hot milk, whisking constantly, bring the sauce to a boil, add salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. Simmer 3 - 5 minutes, until thickened.
Make the Cheese Sauce Mornay:
Remove the bechamél sauce, from heat, add grated cheese. Stir until cheese has melted.
Pour the cheese sauce mornay into the cooked macaroni, stir to combine. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with bread crumb mixture and paprika.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the macaroni is golden brown.