The following “Chew This!” column originally appeared in “The Courier-Times” and / or “The Shelbyville News”. Check their websites for further information and dates.
Simple and Delicious Oven Macaroni and Cheese
I love macaroni and cheese and I am pretty sure I always have. But, I mean, who hasn’t right? I’m always on a quest to find something new and different when it comes to this classic side dish and have tried just about everything. Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa, has a recipe for macaroni and cheese that is topped with sliced tomatoes and bread crumbs. Martha Stewart has a recipe that, unsurprisingly, calls for $250 truffles from Paris. Jerry Seinfeld’s wife Jessica puts spinach in her macaroni and cheese and Oprah Winfrey puts butternut squash in her recipe for the southern staple! Yes, all of these are delicious in their own ways, but they do not come close to that typical, thick, rich, flavorful southern favorite that everyone knows and loves. I have always dreamed of opening up a bakery, but I also have had dreams of opening up a donut shop combination fried chicken place, which has already been done, but also some type of macaroni and cheese restaurant that sells only different mac and cheese variations.
I think I have tried a hundred different macaroni and cheese recipes, including some with black pepper, white pepper, pimentos, moldy cheese, yellow mustard and even lobster. The yellow mustard trick is something I picked up from Rachael Ray. She said if you add just a squirt of yellow mustard into any macaroni and cheese, it will make the cheese taste cheesier. I was skeptical at first, for obvious reasons, but it really does work! Try it! I have tried it in everything from Kraft macaroni and cheese in the box to the fanciest lobster mac and cheese and somehow, for whatever reason, it works! Anyways, back to the recipe at hand. I wanted a recipe for macaroni and cheese that was easy and simple but still had lots of flavor. Enter in my Grandma Barbra’s recipe for oven macaroni and cheese. With this recipe, you do not even have to boil the noodles! No boiling, no draining and no mess. You layer the ingredients into a pan, bake in the oven and it is done. Four different types of cheese really make for the most incredible flavor profile. After making and eating this you will be asking yourself, is it macaroni and cheese or cheese and macaroni!? Ha! Whatever you call it, I call it delicious!
Grandma Barbra’s Oven Macaroni and Cheese
Add a touch of cayenne pepper for a little extra spicy kick.A squeeze of mustard would be delicious too!
2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
1 stick unsalted butter, sliced
6 oz. sliced processed cheese, torn
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
4 oz. shredded colby cheese
4 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
5 cups whole milk
Salt and pepper
Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F.
Spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Layer in the uncooked elbow macaroni, sliced unsalted butter, torn sliced processed cheese, shredded cheddar cheese, shredded colby cheese, and shredded mozzarella cheese.
Pour milk over all. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Place into preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes.
Carefully remove from the oven, cover with aluminum foil and return to oven and bake 15 more minutes.
Carefully remove and allow to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before cutting.
Ask and Answer: So many of you write to me asking what my favorite cookbooks are, so I thought I would share a few of them with you here today. Anything by Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa, is a surefire winner. There is always at least one of her cookbooks in the Top 10 list of cookbooks year around. Her cookbooks are simply unbeatable. Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman is also another favorite, as well as Trisha Yearwood and Martha Stewart. Highly recommend getting at least one cookbook from each of the above authors to start your collection and then slowly read, learn and grow your collection from there.