Roux La La: Mac n Cheese

Music Pairing: George Winston, Thanksgiving

Story

In our household, macaroni and cheese is a genre of sorts, maybe even its own food group, rather than a singular recipe.  As such, we have been known to create a number of “mac and cheese varietals”, such as “southwest“, “Cajun-inspired”, “Pesto-Mac”, and even “Curry-Mac”.  This recipe is our base, and therefore normally referred to as “The traditional”.  Curiously, Afa’s introduction to the dish was quite late in life, as having grown up outside of the US, the dish was entirely foreign to her.  Not that you can tell…although it is not her personal no.1 favorite, she has developed quite an appetite for making it for others.  We feel that the core element of it all is our roux, for which we follow a simple/easy-to-produce and remember recipe. For us, mac and cheese varietals appear on many group dinner menus, while playing a non-negotiable staple role during our Bourbon tastings (staged for friends and family at home) and of course, the Thanksgiving table.  The musical pairing here is inspired by Aaron’s youth, when he was quite taken by George Winston’s Thanksgiving Album.  Even though the music is rather melancholic, the spirit of this dish is always that of gratitude and fellowship.

Recipe

  • 2 C Elbow Macaroni
  • 8 C cold water
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 C milk
  • ¼ C flour
  • 3 T Salt
  • 2 T Adobo seasoning
  • 2 T pepper
  • 8 oz shredded cheese
  • ½ C bread crumbs
  • 1 T smoked paprika

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Fill a large pot with water and bring to boil
  2. Add 1 T salt, followed by the macaroni.  Boil until soft (usually about 15 mins).  Drain quickly in a colander and set aside.
  3. In a separate smaller pot, prepare the roux. Start by gently melting the butter
  4. Once the butter is softened, add the milk. Stir together gently.
  5. Add the flour, the salt, pepper and adobo.  Stir/mix thoroughly and keep the heat low-medium.
  6. Start gradually adding the cheese and stirring together until the roux becomes a wholesome connected mixture.
  7. Cook the roux for about 10 mins, and be prepared for this last step while it is still hot (keep the last minute or two on low heat
  8. Combine the macaroni and the roux thoroughly in either a large bowl or the initial drained pot. The mixture should be somewhat saucy but not too soupy.  Place onto a baking dish
  9. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs, the paprika and some more cheese
  10. Bake at 400 degrees, uncovered, for about 15 minutes
  11. Serve with joy and good stories!

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