For this week's Thanksgiving recipe, I'm featuring a recipe from one of the first food bloggers I ever read... The Pioneer Woman!
She's a former city-girl turned country gal, and whips up some great hometown favorite foods. (Think chicken-fried steak, mashed potatoes, meatloaf, pot pie, etc...)
I know that macaroni and cheese is probably not the most traditional
Thanksgiving side dish, but it has always made an appearance at my family's Thanksgiving table. For the kids! And adults, too, I'm not gonna lie. ;) The Pioneer Woman's version is pretty intense - in a good way. Lots and lots of cheese is combined into a homemade cheese sauce and tossed with elbow macaroni noodles. Then, it's baked with more
cheese on top. Gotta love that crispy topping!
Get started with your cheese sauce. Add butter to a saucepan and let it melt. Whisk in the flour, and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until it turns a golden brown color. This is called a 'roux'; it's what thickens the cheese sauce. Once it's browned (about 5 minutes), whisk in the milk. Let it cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and bubbly.
Now you're going to add the egg. Instead of adding it directly, add about 1/4 cup of the sauce mixture to the egg in a separate bowl, whisking to combine. Then whisk the egg-sauce mixture back
into the big pot of sauce. This prevents the egg from cooking or curdling. (No one wants scrambled eggs in their mac & cheese!)
Next up: the CHEESE! You need one pound of cheese; use your favorite. I used a combo of sharp cheddar and gruyere, and they worked great together. Make sure to use freshly grated cheese (grate it yourself!) because the pre-shredded cheese comes with certain coatings that prevent the cheese from melting smoothly.
Add it into the sauce, and you've got cheesy perfection! Now it's time for the seasonings. Salt, pepper, seasoned salt, and whatever else sounds good. Cayenne would add a bit of a kick!
Once your sauce is ready, stir in one pound of elbow macaroni cooked slightly less than al dente. It will continue to cook as it bakes in the oven. Spread the macaroni and cheese into a greased baking dish and top with additional cheese.
Bake at 350*F for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly!
This macaroni and cheese is definitely a crowd-pleaser. My favorite part is the crispy cheesy topping. I just might have scraped my whole serving just off the top...
Macaroni & Cheese (by the Pioneer Woman)
- 16-oz box dried macaroni
- 1 whole beaten egg
- ¼ cup butter
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2½ cups whole milk
- 2 teaspoons dry mustard
- 1 lb freshly grated cheese, plus additional for topping
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon seasoned salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
Cook macaroni until very firm, 2-3 minutes shy of al dente. Drain in a colander.
In a large pot, melt butter and sprinkle in flour. Whisk butter and flour together over medium-heat, until it turns golden brown, about 5 minutes. Whisk constantly to avoid burning.
Add milk and dry mustard and whisk until smooth. Cook five minutes until thick and bubbly. Reduce heat to low.
Take 1/4 cup of sauce and slowly pour it into the beaten egg, whisking constantly to avoid curdling. Whisk egg mixture back into the sauce, stirring until smooth.
Add cheese; stir to melt. Add salt, seasoned salt, pepper, and any other seasonings. Taste sauce and add more seasonings as needed.
Add drained, cooked macaroni and stir to combine. Pour into a buttered baking dish, top with extra cheese, and bake 20-25 minutes at 350*F until bubbly and golden on top.
adapted from The Pioneer Woman