Thursday, September 9, 2010

Ina's Mac and Cheese

This week my kids went back to school-----YAY!!! A lot of my friends expressed feeling sad and even shed a few tears but for me, I was just happy and excited for all of us. After a long and somewhat stressful summer, I couldn't wait for the routine of school to start again. It's a big year too.... my son started kindergarten and daughter started preschool.

We like to celebrate the first day of school, so I let my son pick dinner Tuesday night (his first day) and I made cupcakes for Thursday night (my daughter's first day).

Here he is with the school mascot...Go Mighty Mustangs!!! -LOL

My son wanted mac and big surprise :) Not only does he love it but he also wanted a soft food because he has a very loose tooth (his first). I decided on this classic recipe from Ina Graten that I bookmarked and had wanted to try for a while.

Now, I love Ina but I was a bit disappointed with this recipe. The nutmeg and pepper flavors were just too strong for me. I also thought the addition of Gruyere cheese mellowed out the sharp cheddar flavor a little too much. Let it be noted though that this "grown-up" tasting dish was loved by both my kids. This recipe also gets rave reviews on the Food Network site, so you might want to give it a try too.


Kosher salt
Vegetable oil
1 pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi
1 quart milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
12 ounces Gruyere, grated (4 cups)
8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 pound fresh tomatoes (4 small) I didn't have any on hand.
1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large (4-quart) pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish.

Slice the tomatoes and arrange on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

Source: Ina Graten

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