I love macaroni and cheese. I’ve never gotten sick of it. I was searching for a recipe that would be a bit different, and I came upon this one from Emeril. I love the way the Essence adds some kick to the topping and the bread crumb and cheese mixture adds a lot of crunch to the texture. I don’t measure the Essence exactly, but use spices according to my personal tastes to determine how much I use. This mac and cheese also freezes well. I often make half of the recipe because it makes so much. Here’s the wonderful recipe:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ pound elbow macaroni
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 ½ cups grated Cheddar cheese (about 6 ounces)
½ cup fine bread crumbs
1 teaspoon ESSENCE
Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 2-quart baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter and set aside. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water. Drain well.
Melt the remaining 5 tablespoons butter in a heavy 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour, and stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, cook over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, being careful not to let the flour brown. Using a whisk, add the milk in a steady stream and cook, whisking constantly, until thick and smooth, 4 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the salt, pepper, cayenne, and 2 cups of the cheese, and stir well. Add the noodles and stir well. Pour into the prepared dish.
In a mixing bowl, combine the remaining ½ cup of cheese with the bread crumbs and Essence. Sprinkle evenly over the macaroni and bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 25 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let rest 5 minutes before serving.
YIELD: 6 to 8 servings
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container. This makes about 2/3 of a cup, but I never actually make it like this. I just add the spices to the cheese and bread crumb mixture the way I want them.