The first recipe for week one of Operation: Expand Horizons was stovetop macaroni and cheese from America's Test Kitchen. I've tried several different mac and cheese recipes and never really found one that we all liked. This one is a step in the right direction- simple and fast- but just needs different cheese next time.
The original recipe calls for sharp cheddar as one option, which is my husband's favorite, but the Vermont white cheddar I used was too sharp. I will probably use a mixture of sharp cheddar and a milder cheese like Colby next time. My husband thought it was too cheesy, so I might adjust the amount down too, but maybe milder cheese would take care of that issue.
I made a couple of minor adjustments when I prepared this dish. First, I cut the recipe in half to serve it as a side dish for 2 adults and a 4 year old. We had some left over. Thankfully, our child is a mac-o-phile and devoured hers, so I'm trusting she'll eat the leftovers as well. Secondly, I skipped the bread crumb treatment, since it's not usually our thing. I might try it next time though. Cody thought the macaroni could use a little punch of garlic, and garlic bread crumbs would be a good way to do that.
Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese
Recipe by America's Test Kitchen
Serves 4 as a main course or 6 to 8 as a side dish
If you’re in a hurry or prefer to sprinkle the dish with crumbled common crackers
(saltines aren’t bad either), you can skip the bread crumb step.
TOASTED BREAD CRUMBS
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs from French or Italian bread
Pinch table salt
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted
CREAMY MACARONI AND CHEESE
2 large eggs
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
2 teaspoons table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard , dissolved in 1 teaspoon water
1/2 pound elbow macaroni
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese , American cheese, or Monterey Jack cheese, grated (about 3 cups)
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix bread crumb ingredients together in small baking pan. Bake until golden brown and crisp, 15 to 20 minutes; set aside.
2. Meanwhile, mix eggs, 1 cup of the evaporated milk, pepper sauce, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, pepper, and mustard mixture in small bowl; set aside.
3. Meanwhile, heat 2 quarts water to boil in large heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt and macaroni; cook until almost tender, but still a little firm to the bite. Drain and return to pan over low heat. Add butter; toss to melt.
4. Pour egg mixture over buttered noodles along with three-quarters of the cheese; stir until thoroughly combined and cheese starts to melt. Gradually add remaining milk and cheese, stirring constantly, until mixture is hot and creamy, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately topped with toasted bread crumbs.