Crack-a-roni: pioneer macaroni and cheese

Crack-a-roni. This is how The Yankee refers to this dish. My sister, too. And her husband. The Kiddo? He refers to it as he does to any foods that are not yogurt, bread, or Cheerios: “No tank you, mama.” Sigh.

Anyway! The dish! This is from my 1950 Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook. Best $20 I’ve ever spent. I stray very little from this, so here goes:

You will need:

  • 6 Tbsp. butter
  • 6 Tbsp. flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • 2 cups milk
  • 8 oz. uncooked macaroni
  • 1/2 pound Velveeta* or 2 cups cheese(s) of your choice

*Even with my general aversion to foods whose ingredients I cannot pronounce, I use Velveeta here. It just totally works in this dish.

Now, just like for the chicken pot pie, we’ll make a white sauce:

  1. Melt the butter over low heat in a heavy saucepan
  2. Quickly whisk in flour, nutmeg, paprika, salt, and pepper, whisking until mixture is smooth & bubbly
  3. Remove from heat; whisk in milk — for a minute it may look like it’s turning into a giant lump, but keep whisking and pouring the milk
  4. Bring to a slow boil and boil for one minute, whisking constantly
  5. Reduce heat to low and cook until thickened — at least ten minutes for best flavor

Easy assembly:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. While the white sauce is cooking, boil pasta for two minutes less than the shortest time on the box; e.g. if your pasta says to cook for 10-12 minutes, then cook for eight minutes
  3. In a greased baking dish, layer half the pasta, half the white sauce and half the cheese; repeat so you have two layers of each component
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until bubbly. At this point it’s super yummy to stop and stir it together. You can then either serve as-is for super creamy mac and cheese, or put it back in to brown up a bit. Serve hot from baking dish
  5. Join a gym

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