For years I've had my mother's macaroni and cheese recipe. The incredibly mild creaminess with crispy, buttery bread crumbs in every bite are still vivid in my mind and yet — I suppose because I was often cooking for one — I hadn't made it for myself until recently. Well let me tell you, now that I have, it has become a regular feature on our table and I realize that it's a really easy recipe to boot. Here it is with a little ham added for extra comfort:
Mom's Mac 'n' Cheese
Serves 4 to 6
2 Tb butter
3 Tb flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard
2 1/2 c. milk
2 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese (8 oz.)
2 thick slices ham, cut into cubes
8 oz. macaroni
1/4 c. buttered bread crumbs
In saucepan, melt butter. Remove from heat and blend in flour, salt and mustard.
Add milk, return to low-medium heat, stirring constantly until sauce thickens a little and is smooth. Add 1 1/2 c. cheese; heat until melted, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, cook pasta as directed, drain. Combine with sauce and ham in a 2-quart casserole. Top with remaining cheese, bread crumbs and paprika. Bake at 375º for approximately 20-25 minutes or until nicely browned and bubbly.