Thursday, February 14, 2008

Macaroni & Cheese

Not only is this comfort food, but it also is a delicious meatless Lenten meal. Serve with a vegetable side and a salad - you'll never miss the meat.

1/2 pound elbow macaroni
3 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons flour
1 Tablespoon powdered mustard
3 cups milk
1/4 cup onion (diced)
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 large egg (beaten)
12 ounces shredded medium cheddar (use white and yellow or you may substitute gouda or asiago cheeses)
1 teaspoon salt (for salting the pasta water)
fresh black pepper to taste

Topping:
2 Tablespoons butter
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
2 Tablespoons parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 2 quart casserole dish (butter or spray with cooking oil).

Cook pasta in salted water to al dente. Drain.

In a separate large pot melt 3 T. butter on low heat. Slowly whisk in flour and dry mustard. Continue stirring for a few minutes, making sure there are no lumps. Slowly stir in milk, onion, and paprika. Once combined, add whole bay leaf. Simmer on very low heat for ten minutes, stirring gently every few minutes to prevent sauce from burning. After simmering, remove bay leaf. Remove pan from heat source. Slowly, just a bit at a time, stir in the egg until combined. Stir in 3/4 of the shredded cheddar and stir until melted. Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Fold the cooked and drained macaroni into the sauce mixture. Pour the coated pasta into the casserole dish and sprinkle remaining shredded cheddar on top.

To prepare topping -
In a small saucepan, melt 2 T butter. Remove from heat and add one cup of breadcrumbs and 2T parmesan cheese. Sprinkle this mixture over the top of the macaroni.

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

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