Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Is there anything better than mac-n-cheese? (hint: the answer is a resounding "NO!").

A few days ago PYT asked if it was possible to make "mac-n-cheese pancakes". And, while the idea of a mac-n-cheese and pancake hybrid was slightly alarming, I think what she actually meant was mac-n-cheese In The Form Of a patty type thing, In The Shape Of pan-fried goodness. So, I did a little searching on The Internets (you know, the series of tubes), and found a recipe for Alton Brown's Baked Macaroni and Cheese, and conveniently there was a linked recipe for Next Day Mac and Cheese "Toast".

Since PYT and I are planning to make dinner tomorrow, I decided to give these "pancakes" a whirl. So, right now I have mac-n-cheese in the oven. And, I think it is going to be ba-BOMB. For reals. I tried the pre-baked stuff, and it was already the Best Mac-n-Cheese Ever. So, tonight I get to eat some of the straight-up mac-and-cheese, and tomorrow I get to (hopefully) impress PYT with golden goodness.

So, here's my adaptation of Alton Brown's Baked Macaroni and Cheese:

Baked Macaroni and Cheese
serves 6-8

1/2 lb. elbow macaroni
3 T. butter
3 T. flour (I used whole wheat flour)
1 T. powdered mustard
3 c. milk
1/2 c. yellow onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
1/2 t. paprika
1/4 t. cayenne
1 large egg
12 oz. shredded cheese (I used a mix of yellow and white cheddar, chevre & gruyere)
1 t. sea salt
freshly ground black pepper (I used LOTS of pepper)

3 T. butter
1 c. panko
3 T. finely chopped fresh parsley
1 T. grated meyer lemon zest (my nod to Heidi; she loves lemon zest)
lots of freshly ground black pepper
a pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 350.
In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, in a seperate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it's free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, paprika and cayenne. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.
Temper in the egg (this means to mix a little of the hot milk mixture slowly into a beaten egg to bring it up to temperature so the eggs don't scramble, then mix it back into the milk mixture). Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-qt casserole dish. Top with the remaining cheese.
Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs, parsley and lemon zest to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 40-45 minutes (I like it really nice and browned on top, so I'm going tutn it up to broil for a few minutes at the end). Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

And, now it's almost ready to take out of the oven! I'll report back tomorrow with pictures.

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