Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Home-made Mac n' Cheese

Anyone ever hear the Bare Naked Ladies song "If I Had a Million Dollars?" There is a line in that song that reads "If I had a million dollars we wouldn't have to eat Kraft dinner... but we would." I always loved that line because if I was ever a millionaire I know that I would still have the occasional bowl of cereal or Kraft box mac n' cheese for dinner. I've never tried to make my own mac n' cheese, so when I saw a recipe on the Dishing up Delights food blog I had to give it a go.

Now, this posed a little bit of a problem because when I don't feel like cooking (which is usually about once a week), I tell Jon to throw on some mac n' cheese. So, if I'm planning mac n' cheese for one of my meals, what in the world do we make on the night I don't feel like cooking?

Despite this small dilemma, I still forged ahead. I was not sorry. This was very, very good. It has a bechamel base which gives it a creamy consistency. (I didn't even know what bechamel was or how to pronounce it until 2 days ago). As a first time effort, my bechamel wasn't bad, but it wasn't perfectly smooth and creamy. I know there are some bechamel experts out there, so if you have any insight into perfecting the consistency please put it in the comments section. Even with this small imperfection, the recipe still tasted fabulous.

Home-made Mac n' Cheese

(modified from Dishing up Delights)

6-8 slices canadian bacon (cubed)
1 shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 lb elbow macaroni
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup Fontina ch
eese, shredded
1 1/2 cups extra-sharp chedder cheese, shredded
Cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper to taste

Get the elbow macaroni started in some salted water. While the macaroni are boiling, saute the cubed canadian bacon in a pan. I didn't use any oil and just cooked the bacon until it started to brown a little. The original recipe used regular bacon, but I wanted something a little lighter to go with the cheesiness of this dish. Once cooked, remove the canadian bacon to a bowl and reserve for later. Add a little oil to the pan and saute the shallot. (Shallots and scallions are my favorite onions. They each have such a unique flavor that really add another level to a dish). After about 3 minutes add the garlic and continue to saute until onions are translucent. Add the canadian bacon back into the pan and mix thoroughly. Turn off the heat and set aside.

By this time your pasta should be cooked. Drain in a colander and set aside. Add the butter to the pot and set on medium-high heat. When half-way melted add the flour and stir until mixed. When the butter has completely melted add the milk. Continue to stir and cook on medium high heat until your "bechamel" has reached it's desired thickness. Add all of the Fontina cheese and about 1/2 cup of the chedder to your bechamel. Stir until completely melted. Add about 1 tsp cayenne and some salt and pepper. The original recipe didn't have amounts for the cheeses or the cayenne, so I did everything to taste. If sauce has no real flavor add some more chedder. If it needs a little kick, add some salt, pepper, or cayenne. I just kept adding chedder until I was satisfied. The fontina is a creamier cheese, but it has a very mild flavor. Add the fontina for texture, but the chedder for taste.

Once your satisfied with the taste, stir in the onion, garlic, and canadian bacon mixture. Once mixed, add the pasta and mix. Voila! It's yummy home-made mac n' cheese. I had leftovers the next day for lunch and it was great. Jon told me how his mom bakes homemade mac n' cheese and I can definitely see how having a crunchy top would be yummy. In fact, baking it in an oven reminds me a lot of my mom's macaroni casserole, which will have to be a post for another day.

What I would change about this recipe:
Nothing. I loved it. I just need to work on the texture of my bechamel sauce, but the flavor was great. I really liked the canadian bacon touch. Homemade mac n'cheese also makes you feel a little healthier than eating the box mac n' cheese, but I'll still always have a couple boxes on hand.


  1. hi Brittany, as I was going through my older post I saw your comment. Thanks for the info, I'm going to try it. Along with many of your recipes. It all looks great! hope you don't mind of I book mark your blog??

  2. hi brit....just looking over your blog again and i wanted to add....your "bechamel" i think is what i used to call "a white sauce". the secret to a really smooth and creamy white sauce is to add the milk slowly, use medium heat and stir, stir, stir. takes a bit longer but the results are worth it. even after you add the cheese.....keep stirring. once well blended and smooth pour over macs and fold gently until well coated. a dusting of bread crumbs adds a little crunchy topping. O:) hey this is fun...ttys luv, mum