Real Mac and Cheese is BAKED!

Over Memorial Day weekend, we went to visit with my wife’s extended family.  Her saintly Aunt Debbie and Uncle Roger invited the forty or so people to descend upon their house and cause total havoc.  They were spectacular hosts and thought of every possible contingency.  Seriously, we had a great time and are eternally grateful to them.

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Both of these boys were more interested in pine cones than mac and cheese.

At one point, Aunt Debbie was concerned that the kids weren’t going to have the mac and cheese that she promised them with one of the enormous meals we had, so she asked me if I would help out.  I jumped in there, and judging my inability to find even a single noodle left out of the 3 pounds of macaroni that I made, people liked it.  Here’s a more normal sized recipe. 

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons bacon drippings (you could use butter or canola oil, but why?)
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups warm milk
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese (I like extra sharp)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (I think plain yogurt would work too)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper sauce
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs (you could use panko or dried if you want)
  • 1 tablespoon bacon drippings

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Put large pot full of water on to boil.  Cook the elbow noodles to al dente and then drain well.

While the noodles are cooking, heat 3 tablespoons bacon drippings in a sauce pan over medium high heat.  When oil is hot (you’ll smell it), add the flour and stir to coat.  Cook for a few minutes and it should turn into a light brown paste.  Whisk in the hot milk and make sure to get into all the corners of the pan.  Reduce the heat to medium and it will thicken after a minute or two.  Adjust with a bit more milk if it gets too thick.

Add cheese and whisk until smooth.  Add sour cream, cayenne sauce, salt and pepper.  Taste it and adjust as needed.  When you are happy with the sauce, pour the cheese sauce over the drained noodles.  Mix well and don’t worry if it seems a little saucy.  Pour the mixture into a 9×13 pan.

In a small bowl, toss the bread crumbs with 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings (or melted butter) and hit it with a little kosher salt.  Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the top of the pan.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until the topping is nice and golden brown.