My son always loved mac & Cheese. When he was a little toddler, you would ask him what he wanted. He would start running around the house singing mac & chee’, mac &chee’. I always made it from scratch for him. None of that boxed stuff for him.
How I started putting smoked Gouda in the dish? Well. When I became a vegetarian 14 years ago, I didn’t know how to feed us. I looked at cookbooks like ‘Diet for a Small Planet” Blah! They all sounded so boring. Jim, my wonderful husband who also likes to eat, went on a cookbook hunt. He came upon “Vegetarian Classics” by Jeanne Lemlin. The recipes were mainly mainstream that Ms. Lemlin had made vegetarian. Wonderful! Vegetarian Classics became my go to source for great recipes!
I made this the other day. I have a confession. I didn’t use smoked Gouda. I had had people over that I served cheese, fruit, and crackers to. I had so much cheese left over, that I used it for this. There was cheddar. Havarti. Garlic and herb cheese. It turned out deliciously. This recipe is very forgiving.
This updated version of the ultimate American comfort food gets its exquisite flavor from a touch of smoked . If you have any finicky eaters who want a more traditional approach, use all cheddar cheese. It will still be delicious, just not as poetic.
2 slices bread
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons unbleached flour
2 cups whole or low-fat milk
1/8 teaspoon dry mustard
Dash cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup grated smoked Gouda cheese
8 ounces (2 cups) elbow macaroni
1. Bring a large quantity of water to a boil in a stockpot.
2. Tear the bread into pieces and place in a food processor or blender to make bread crumbs. Pour the crumbs into a bowl and drizzle with the oil. Rub the oil into the crumbs with your fingertips to moisten them evenly.
3. To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk until it blends with the butter. Cook this roux for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk, mustard, cayenne, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking continuously. Lower the heat and simmer the sauce about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheddar and smoked cheeses. (The sauce can be made up to 4 hours in advance. Reheat gently until warm before mixing it with the macaroni.)
4. Drop the macaroni into the boiling water. Cook until al dente, about 7 minutes. Do not overcook it; it will cook more when it is baked. Drain thoroughly in a colander. (Toss with a bit of oil if you aren’t going to bake the casserole immediately.)
5. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
6. Spoon the macaroni into a shallow 2 to 2-1/2 quart casserole. Pour on the sauce and toss well. Sprinkle on the bread crumbs.
7. Bake 15 minutes, or just until the sauce is bubbly and the crumbs begin to brown.
The macaroni and sauce can be prepared in advance, but they should not be combined until baking time.
The white sauce can boil a few seconds, but once the cheese has been added, the sauce must not boil or else it will curdle. I just take the pan off the heat and stir until the cheese is melted.