All day long today, I planned to cook a pork tenderloin for dinner. I did a pretty large shopping trip after work – and forgot to buy a pork tenderloin.

I got home, put away groceries, and looked into the fridge. Plenty of cheese. Time for a good ol’ batch of Macaroni and Cheese.

I can honestly say that I have never – ever – bought boxed Mac & Cheese. Ever.

We never had it as children growing up – my mom made mac and cheese from scratch to feed the six kids – and because of the jobs I had in restaurants, it just never occurred to me to buy it.

And I still don’t.

I’ve tasted it before. That’s been impetus enough not to spend money on the stuff. I don’t see the reason for it.

But real Macaroni and Cheese?!? Food from the gods…

At its most basic, it’s a thin white sauce with cheese added, mixed with cooked elbow macaroni, topped with buttered breadcrumbs, and baked. After the cheese is added to the sauce it thickens nicely.

Very simple.

Tonight, I took it a bit further by adding diced ham and peas.

I cooked up a pound of elbow macaroni and ended up with enough mac and cheese to feed the neighborhood. I made a separate casserole for Victor’s mom that we’ll bring over tomorrow, and Victor has lunch for days…

And we had leftover biscuits.

Here’s a recipe from Gourmet Magazine that’s pretty close to what I do.  I add a few shots of Tabasco and a few shots of Worcestershire sauce.  I’ll use whatever breadcrumbs are in the house – we always have them in the cupboard.

Macaroni and Cheese

Gourmet | August 2007

Gina Marie Miraglia Eriquez

The toasted crumbs on top have a cheesy crispness, and the pasta beneath is creamy and rich. Kids will appreciate the individual servings, but the recipe makes plenty, so why not pour the extra into a baking dish to feed the ravenous parents?

Yield: Makes 20 servings

Active Time: 35 min

Total Time: 1 1/4 hr


For topping

  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 2 cups panko (coarse Japanese bread crumbs) or 3 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs (from 6 slices firm white sandwich bread)
  • 1/4 pound coarsely grated extra-sharp Cheddar (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

For macaroni and sauce

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 5 cups whole milk
  • 1 pound coarsely grated extra-sharp Cheddar (6 cups)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni


Make topping:

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle.

Melt butter, then stir together with panko and topping cheeses in a bowl until combined well.

Make sauce:

Melt butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat and stir in flour. Cook roux, stirring, 3 minutes, then whisk in milk. Bring sauce to a boil, whisking constantly, then simmer, whisking occasionally, 3 minutes. Stir in cheeses, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper until smooth. Remove from heat and cover surface of sauce with wax paper.

Make Macaroni:

Cook macaroni in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (2 tablespoons salt for 4 quarts water) until al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking water and drain macaroni in a colander. Stir together macaroni, reserved cooking water, and sauce in a large bowl. Transfer to 2 buttered 2-quart shallow baking dishes.

Sprinkle topping evenly over macaroni and bake until golden and bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes.