I made the best macaroni and cheese ever yesterday.
I've made this recipe a million and one times before it seems like (when you have a two year old, mac and cheese becomes a frequent in your house) but as many times as I've made this fantastic recipe, none ever turned out quite this delicious before. I blame the pepper jack cheese for making it extra delicious this time around. When I first started making homemade macaroni and cheese (about a year ago) I'll admit, they were just okay, nothing special. Then I tried this recipe by Ina Garten, (otherwise known as the Barefoot Contessa and my cooking idol) and even after burning the roux (and still using it for the cheese sauce) it was pretty darn good. But soon after, there was the whole Alton brown mac and cheese fiasco (note to self: onions taste awful in mac and cheese, sorry Alton) where I ended up ruining our dinner and my palate for awhile. So I decided to go back to Ina's recipe and modify it to my family's liking. I figured out how to make a roux without burning it, put my own spin on it, and thus began my journey into making macaroni and cheese. This recipe is so simple, but requires a lot of pots and pans, just FYI. However, I think you will find that the end result is totally worth the extra dishes in your sink. ;)
Macaroni & cheese with fresh tomatoes
modified from Ina Garten's mac & cheese on the food network.
1 Ib elbow macaroni
vegetable oil (for drizzling into boiling water)
8 Tbs butter, divided
4 cups of milk
1/2 cup all purpose flour
4 cups sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups mild cheddar cheese
2 slices of pepper jack cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs (note: you can crush up crackers if you don't have bread crumbs on hand)
2-3 fresh on the vine tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Boil a large pot of salted water. When the water is boiling, drizzle the oil into the pot and cook the macaroni, about 6-8 minutes. Set aside. Heat the 4 cups of milk in a saucepan over medium low heat. While the milk is heating, begin making your roux. Using a large pot, (about 4-6 quarts) melt 6 tablespoons of butter over medium low heat. As soon as the butter has melted, add the flour while constantly whisking. whisk about 2 minutes, careful not to burn your roux. It should look like this:
Add the simmering hot milk to the roux and whisk another minute or two, until the milk begins to thicken like a cream sauce. Off the heat, add the cheese, macaroni, and salt and pepper to the mixture and stir to combine and melt the cheese. Pour mixture into a large baking dish and top with the sliced tomatoes. In a small saucepan, melt the remaining 2 Tbs of butter and add the bread crumbs. Sprinkle on top of the macaroni. Bake 30-40 minutes, or until macaroni is golden brown and bubbly. Enjoy!