Recipe by Carla Crudup of Make Yourself Comfortable: Macaroni and cheese is a true food icon. This legendary dish made its public debut in the United States in the early 1800s as it graced the table of President Thomas Jefferson, who served it in the White House. A star was born, and the rest is history! Today, macaroni and cheese is considered one of the classic American comfort foods. This recipe exemplifies the true essence of this popular dish. The spices and cheese blend highlight the wonderful taste of this American food prodigy. -Carla
- 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon shallots, finely minced
- ¼ cup flour
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg*
- 2 ½ cups milk
- 7 oz. grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 oz. grated mozzarella cheese
- non-stick cooking spray
- paprika and dried parsley for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook macaroni in 4 quarts of boiling water until tender; drain and set aside. In a large saucepan over medium low heat melt butter. Add shallots and sauté 1 minute. Add flour, salt, and peppers. Stir and cook until mixture is smooth and bubbly. Gradually stir in milk and add nutmeg. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly until thick and smooth. Reduce heat to low and stir in grated cheeses until melted. Add macaroni to cheese sauce and pour into cooking spray coated 3-quart casserole dish. Garnish with paprika and parsley. Bake uncovered for approximately 30 minutes or until bubbly. Serves 6.
*Substitute ground nutmeg if the fresh nutmeg seed is unavailable. But freshly grated nutmeg has a much more intense flavor. Nutmeg is commonly used in sweet or baked goods, but it is also fantastic in savory dishes such as this béchamel cheese sauce. It is one of my favorite spices because of it’s versatility and subtleness that enhances the natural taste of any dish.