Cheese is one of my favorite foods. It is not an exaggeration to say that it is immensely more difficult for me to find a cheese that I don’t like than it is for me to find a cheese I enjoy. It is hard for me to share a cheese tray, it is rare for me to pass by a free cheese sample, and I cannot resist loading up on cheese at a gourmet shop or grocery store.
That leads to a very full cheese drawer in our refrigerator at home. My husband also enjoys cheese, but he sometimes does not understand why I come home with yet another wedge of gouda when we already have a seemingly reasonable amount of havarti, provolone, and cheddar.
Our refrigerator’s full cheese drawer and my attempt to create some space led to this recipe. It is my mother’s basic macaroni and cheese in which you can use just about any type of cheese and even several varieties of cheese at once. I used up some smoked mozzarella, provolone, colby, and herbed goat cheese for this version.
Macaroni and Many Cheeses
Serves about 8
1 lb dried macaroni
6 Tbsp butter
6 Tbsp flour
2 1/4 cups milk (I used 2%)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard
between 8 and 12 oz of mixed cheeses, shredded/grated
Cook the macaroni in boiling water according to package directions. Drain well and set aside.
While pasta is cooking, begin to prepare a white sauce. Melt butter in heavy skillet. Stir in flour and cook over medium heat. Keep stirring until smooth.
Before you add the milk to the flour butter mixture, heat it separately until it is almost boiling. Then, gradually stir it in and continue stirring until it thickens. The sauce stays smoother by adding warm milk to the other warm ingredients.
Add the salt and mustard, and simmer for no more than 5 minutes.
Butter the bottom and sides of a 3 quart baking dish. Pour about half the cooked macaroni onto the bottom of the dish. Cover with half the white sauce and almost half the cheese.
Pour the remaining macaroni and cover with remaining white sauce. Then distribute the remaining cheese. I always aim to have the top layer of cheese be a little heavier.
Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for about 25 minutes or until you can see the sauce bubbling on the sides. Then, I like to turn on the broiler for about 3 minutes to brown the top nicely.