Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Grandma's Macaroni and Cheese - Val's Galore Style

If you recall, one of my favorite parts of my childhood was fresh home-microwaved macaroni and cheese from Stouffer's. However, even more favorite than that savory ambrosia was the oven-baked macaroni and cheese my grandma used to make.

It was so rich and chewy and hearty, not liquidy like the Stouffer's stuff! Although in my youth, I had a reputation for eating "like a bird," I have recollections of coming back for seconds when Grandma's macaroni and cheese was served.

I have the recipe, but I cannot review Grandma's Macaroni and Cheese in its purest form, because I'm always messing with the recipe.

The original called for 11 oz. of cheese—I'm pretty sure that was American cheese, but since I hate American cheese on its own, I can't seem to bring myself to buy it for a recipe, and I definitely can't get excited about the thought of peeling 16 individual slices of semisolid cow byproducts out of their wasteful plastic shrouds. So I use cheddar or Amish yogurt cheese or a mix of both, and since those do not come in 11-oz packages, I'm always obliged to guess. I suppose I could use a scale, but that's not the Adventure in Cooking way. The "real" cheeses give this recipe a real fat-separation problem, and I'm never sure whether I'm going to end up with too little cheese or too much (OK, honestly, there is no such thing).

Although not explicitly specified in my recipe, I'm sure the original was produced using white flour noodles and real milk with some fat in it. When I make mine, I use whole wheat noodles, because I like to offset my mountain of cholesterol with a little bit of fiber, and powdered nonfat milk.

Lastly, while the recipe says to cook it for an hour at 350°F, I consistently burn the top when I cook it that long. Last time I started it when the oven was still heating up, at around 250 degrees, and cooked it for 50 minutes, which seemed to work.

When Grandma made this recipe, it was happy noodles all across the board, but when I make it, the texture's a little off, it's usually not salty enough, and it's frequently burned, so the low rating here should not surprise anyone.

I estimate this recipe to cost around 6 dollars for all the ingredients, divided by 4 servings – make that 3 restaurant-size servings – and it comes out to 2$ a serving. Definitely a winner when it comes to price.

All in all, I give it one happy noodle for the price, one happy noodle for old-times' sake, and 2 sad noodles for all the things that go wrong.

1 happy noodle1 happy noodle  1sad noodle 1sad noodle

And here's the recipe, in case you think you can do it better than me:

Grandma's Macaroni and Cheese

1& 1/3 c. uncooked macaroni
1½ Tbsp butter
1½ Tbsp. flour
1 c. milk
11 oz. cheese
Cook noodles.
Melt butter. Stir in flour until bubbly.
Add milk. Stir til flour thickens slightly.
Break up cheese into mix. Stir til melted.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Pour over noodles in greased casserole dish.
Bake 1 hr. at 350° uncovered.