One of my favorite comfort meals is macaroni and cheese, especially when it’s cold. It’s one of my favorite winter meals, right up there with chili and broccoli soup. Although it’s not winter yet, it’s starting to feel like it. Today it rained fairly hard and it was windy too. That doesn’t happen too much around Southern California, so when it does it’s a big deal. We’re wimps, I know.
I’m pretty sure macaroni and cheese is quite a few other people’s comfort food. People I know of all ages love it. Those in the toddler to elementary age usually have a particular fondness for it.
I gave Maggie some and she gobbled it up. She seemed to love it. I just didn’t want to give her too much because she is still getting used to table food and I didn’t want all the dairy to give her a stomach ache.
I remember seeing my mom making macaroni and cheese when I was growing up, I believe from this same recipe. She told me that blending the melted butter and flour creates what is called a “roux. Then adding the milk makes a bèchamel sauce or white sauce, which is one of the mother sauces of French cuisine. It is the base for other sauces.
There was an episode of Great British Bake off recently in which one of the hosts said “Haven’t you ever made a roux?” And the contestant sadly shook her head no. I thought well, if you’ve made macaroni and cheese, even from a box, then of course you have.
This macaroni and cheese is simple and oh so cheesy. It’s easy to make it your own by changing up the cheese, or adding seasonings and toppings, but it’s also great just as is.
Stovetop macaroni and cheese
Yield: 5 to 6 servings
7 ounce package (2 cups) uncooked macaroni
3 tablespoons margarine or butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheese
In a medium saucepan, cook macaroni as directed on the package; drain. In the same saucepan, melt margarine, then blend in flour. Add salt and pepper. Heat until bubbly.
Add milk. Heat until mixture boils and thickens, stirring constantly. Stir in cheese and macaroni. Heat through.
Suggested toppings: You could do one or more of the following: Cooked greens, such as peas or broccoli. Cooked and chopped meat, such as bacon or chicken. Breadcrumbs. Parmesan cheese. Red pepper flakes.
In the photo, the macaroni and cheese is topped with Italian breadcrumbs straight out of a package (you could toast them first), crumbled bacon, and Parmesan cheese.