Nothing says home like a hot casserole dish of made-from-scratch macaroni and cheese.
Growing up, I rarely ate the boxed stuff, because my mom makes one of the best around.
I have mac and cheese on my mind, and not only because so many of you shared your opinions about it on the chambanamoms.com Facebook fan page.
I’m under the weather, and when I get sick I want to eat comfort food. And for me, chicken soup has nothing on a steaming dish of elbow mac with a good, cheesy sauce.
CBS Sunday morning did a piece about this time-honored dish last week, and I learned a few things about my favorite food. Did you know that it was first served in the U.S. at a White House dinner hosted by President Thomas Jefferson?
It is also, according to CBS, a dish symbolic of a troubled economy. The ingredients are humble and inexpensive: Cheese, milk, butter, salt and pasta, and one serving costs about 50-cents to make. And while Chamabana tends to feel sheltered from the economic problems in the rest of the country, the unemployment rate here was still a little over 8 percent in September, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
But most of all, when the cold weather sets in and you’re stuck inside the house, macaroni and cheese just feels good. It’s warm and hearty, and when served with a side salad and a loaf of bread, you have a meal that sticks to your ribs.
Oh, sure, you can get all fancy, and use expensive cheeses and extra ingredients like herbs, scallions and smoked chipotle peppers. But for my money, just make a simple cheese roux, boil some elbow pasta and top it with crushed potato chips or sliced tomatoes.
Some people here in Chambana contend that I make one of the best mac n’ cheese dishes around, but I can’t take the credit. It all goes to my mom, who shared this recipe with me years and years ago.
Amy’s Mom’s Macaroni and Cheese
- 3 TBS butter
- 2 TBS flour
- 1 TSP salt
- Dash of pepper
- Dash of onion salt
- 2 CUPS milk (don’t use skim)
- 2 CUPS of cheese (one Velveeta, one extra sharp cheddar, cubed or shredded)
- 8 oz pasta
Melt butter in a heavy saucepan. Add flour, salt, pepper and onion salt. Stir to make a paste. Add milk, simmer gently until bubbles form on the side of the pan. Lower heat, add cheese and stir until melted. The sauce should be thick (I add more cheese if it seems thin). Pour noodles into buttered casserole dish, top with sauce. Noodles should “float” a little. Top with your choice of buttered bread crumbs, crushed potato chips or sliced tomatoes. Or leave naked. Bake at 350-degrees for 25 minutes, or until cheese is thick and slightly browned on top.
What’s your favorite mac and cheese? Or do you have another comfort food you turn to when the chips are down?