This is what can happen when you have a toddler. You can scoop out a portion of homemade mac and cheese for her so it can cool. Then you can run to the living room for two seconds to do one of the other millions of things you were doing, like maybe watering a plant or throwing out some papers or putting a few toys away. You can then return to the kitchen where the small bowl is mysteriously missing. But you see the mac and cheese is clumped on the floor and on the turtleneck you’d put on the toddler minutes before the mac and cheese came out of the oven. The bowl can be found somewhere near a closet, sitting upside down, but where is your sanity? You are grateful the toddler can’t yet reach the top of the oven and so there is more mac and cheese for her, and for you. You chalk it up to learning another lesson in toddler hood, and then you both indulge in the comforting mac and cheese that could perhaps make the rest of your hectic day okay.
Tip: I buy a lot of cheese from Saxelby Cheesemongers. Try their Cabot Clothbound Cheddar for this recipe.
Macaroni and cheese, courtesy of Alton Brown
1/2 pound elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon powdered mustard
3 cups milk
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 large egg
12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup panko bread crumbs
Make the macaroni and cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente. While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it’s free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.
Temper in the egg. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.
Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.