Grandma’s Mac and Cheese
Holiday season is upon us and that is giving me the desire to cook and bake! I love holidays and I love cooking…baking isn’t really a strong suit of mine but cooking is great for me because the amounts really don’t matter as long as you taste test it to make sure it tastes right! I had the pleasure of having a few friends over for lunch yesterday to test out how my recipe would turn out here in Spain. I haven’t bought measuring cups and I don’t have an oven with a temperature gauge. So, cooking is quite the science experiment! I have to admit, I enjoyed it! Thanks to everyone for coming over!
Let’s get started on my Grandmas recipe! One thing about my Grandmas recipe is that no one knows exactly what the amounts are…really this is all just a guesstimate…so if you think you need more or less of something, that’s probably true! In reality, each ingredient can be altered a bit and it will come out tasting pretty amazing no matter what! This recipe is really easy, so that’s why I am sharing it! Good luck!
What you’ll need…roughly:
- 3/4 of a stick of salted butter
- 1/4 C All-purpose flour
- 2 TGI Fridays cups (1 pint?) of Milk (2% is best, but if you prefer “light” macaroni and cheese you could use skim I suppose)
- 3/4 of a 350g brick of cheddar cheese, shredded or chopped, whatever you can do (any kind, yellow, white, aged…whatever you find first!)
- 3/4 of a 390g can of whole canned tomatoes (Gram prefers the ones she cans herself…if you have those, use those
- 3 palmfuls of salt
- 1/2 of the bag of noodles (medium shells, or whatever you can find!)
- 1 pot (for noodles)
- 1 sauce pan
- Casserole dish
- Cook at 375 degrees for 45min-1hr…or until crispy. (In Spain put the temp about a 1/2 inch from the small flame.
The oven. This setting may or may not be 375 degrees, either way, this is the temperature you should use for your macaroni and cheese.
Making the sauce
Before you start your sauce, put some water on to boil for your noodles. Add the noodles once the water is boiling. Don’t forget to pay attention to your noodles while you’re making your sauce!
Melt your butter in a sauce pan and let it get golden brown and bubbly (I forgot to take a picture!). Then add flour. Let that get golden too. This is the base of your cream sauce. It will make your sauce creamy!
Now add your milk, notice the golden color in the pan with the milk? That’s the butter-flour mixture! Let your milk, butter and flour mixture get bubbly. Throw in some salt.
Once this bubbles, add the cheese! It would melt better if it was shredded but I don’t have a cheese grater so I chopped my cheese with a knife. It real doesn’t matter how the cheese goes in as long as you don’t use a whole brick…that would take too long to melt!
Yes, bubbly cheese sauce! Throw some more salt in.
Now add your tomatoes WITH THE TOMATO JUICE to the cheese sauce. Straight from the can, plop the tomatoes into the sauce (with the tomato juice from the can! THAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART!). You should be putting 2-3 whole tomatoes from the can into the sauce. Pick up each of the tomatoes with your wooden spoon and slice them up with a knife. The reason we don’t slice the tomatoes up on a cutting board or something is because we would lose a lot of the juice from the tomato on the cutting board if we did it that way. It’s only three tomatoes to fishing them out to slice them up doesn’t take much work!
Let the cream sauce come to a light bubbly state. NOT a rapid boil. Now, fill your casserole dish 1/2 way with noodles. Then pour all of the sauce into the noodles (SLOWLY!). Now add the rest of the noodles bit by bit. If you have too many noodles, it’s bad. So stop adding noodles if it seems like there are too many!
It should look like this before you put it in the oven! I could have put even less noodles!
Now its ready to pop into the oven! Feel free to let it get crusty, that’s the best part!
Preheat oven to 375, or just guess if your oven doesn’t have a temperature gauge and cook your noodles (follow directions on the package!)
Now, on the stove, melt butter in a sauce pan, wait for it to turn golden brown and bubbly, be careful not to burn it! Once butter is golden, take off heat while adding the flour. Stir together. Wait for it to be golden again, not too golden, because then it’s burnt! Return the sauce pan to the heat and add one TGI Fridays size cup of milk. Stir. Add the second cup of milk. Wait for it to bubble and get a tiny bit thicker. It won’t truly get too thick (that happens when you add the cheese!). Now, the cream sauce is bubbling, add the cheese and let it melt. Throw in a palmful of salt. Once the cheese is melted add the tomatoes (mash them up with your stirring spoon and a knife so they aren’t whole!). Bring sauce to a low bubbly state and remove from heat. Throw in your last two palmfuls of salt.
Put about half of the total amount of noodles you will use in the casserole dish and pour the sauce slowly on top of the noodles. Stir gently within the casserole dish. Add the rest of the noodles bit by bit, DON’T ADD TOO MANY NOODLES! If there are too many noodles the casserole won’t turn out as delicious! Add noodles until it looks right. Not too many! NOT TOO MANY! This is VERY important. The sauce can taste amazing but if there are too many noodles, when it bakes, the noodles will take over and the taste of the sauce will be lost!
Don’t forget your apple crisp! I will save that recipe for another day…