Monday, 22 April 2013

Mac and Cheese Mondays: Pioneer Woman's Mac & Cheese

The incomparable Annie of Annie's Eats did her own Mac and Cheese comparison a few years ago and she declared Ree Drummond's Mac and Cheese her favorite of that bunch.

Since then, Annie has made a few other Mac and Cheeses that I can't wait to try - but I know (and probably Annie would agree) that Ree Drummond does simple and delicious so wonderfully well.

So I was so excited to try the recipe that Annie called her favorite!

Before I go forward, I must say that even though this recipe called for a full egg, I still desperately wanted to halve the recipe.

I probably wouldn't do this for a cake or any baked good like that - but I think that perhaps for a recipe like this I can be a little less stringent.

If you beat one whole egg it would measure out to about 3 tablespoons-ful.  That is if you use a large egg - although I've read that you could use a small egg in place of a large egg and that would be okay.  But because I use large eggs for all of my baking and cooking - I'm not about to run out and buy a dozen small eggs.

Anyway - I measured out 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons and pitched the rest.  I suppose if you wanted to make the tiniest omelet in the world, you could use the rest to do so. 

I couldn't have been bothered.

Start out by melting butter in a pot over medium-low heat.

 Add the flour and whisk until smooth.

Then add the milk.

And the dry mustard.  And cook until thickened.

Now here's where things can get a little dicey.

Take about 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture,

And slowly whisk it into the egg - I like to pour down the inside of the bowl so as to both temper the egg and cool the milk mixture a little.

You don't want scrambled eggs, just warm ones.

Then, once the eggs have been tempered, add them back to the main pot with the rest of the milk mixture.

Then start adding the cheese.  Annie used all cheddar - and I just happened to have enough - so I did too!

Then add the salt.

Then the spices.

And the other spices.

Add the in the cooked macaroni (did I mention that you needed to cook and drain macaroni?  Oops).

Pour the mixture into a casserole dish, top with grated cheddar and bake for 20 - 25 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling.

And eat.

And eat.

This mac and cheese was fine for it's cheesiness and creaminess, but I felt like it had too much going on.  I probably could have cooled it on the amount of pepper that was going in, or I could have pulled the optional spices... 

I have no idea.

But it was a fairly satisfying meal on a cool Spring evening.

And when I say Spring.  I mean Still Winter.

This is the Cane girl - signing off.
Pioneer Woman's Mac & Cheese

4 cups uncooked macaroni pasta
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 egg
1 pound cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 - 1 teaspoon black pepper
Dashed of cayenne, paprika, and thyme (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente.  Set aside.
  2. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat.  Whisk in the flour and cook for about 5 minutes, until nutty and golden.
  3. Gradually add the milk to the flour mixture.  Add the dry mustard.  Whisking constantly, cook until the mixture has thickened.  Reduce to low heat.
  4. In a small bowl, beat the egg until smooth.  Gradually pour in 1/4 cup of the milk mixture, whisking to prevent the egg from scrambling.  Whisk until well combined.  Add a little more milk mixture to the egg if you like.  Then add the egg mixture back to the milk mixture and mix until well combined.
  5. Add the cheese to the milk-egg mixture a handful at a time, whisking each handful until completely melted.  Keep a handful or two for topping.
  6. Start adding the salt and seasonings.  Adjust as required by your tastes.
  7. Stir in the drained macaroni pasta and pour the mixture into a casserole dish.
  8. Top with remaining cheddar.  Bake in the preheated oven for 20 - 25 minutes or until the cheese is golden and bubbling.
Source:  Annie's Eats

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