There are few things that scream comfort food to me more than mac and cheese. I am embarrassed to admit that I do not discriminate the type of mac and cheese that I eat – really the Kraft Easy Mac thrills me just as much as some amazing lobster mac and cheese at some fancy steakhouse. Probably because I consumed so much of this delicious-ness during my pregnancies, both of my munchkins have a similar addiction. This addiction goes so far that my son and I negotiated a deal that he would not buy school lunches and he would eat the lunches I made, if he got mac and cheese or pizza once a week.
I realized that those easy mac packages do add up financially, I have no idea what type of animal powdered cheese comes from, and that I needed a lunch that I could prepare quickly for the kids. So enters….the mac and cheese bite! Don’t they just look delicious?
To begin, I start with the Martha Stewart recipe: http://www.marthastewart.com/271998/perfect-macaroni-and-cheese. It has the perfect blend of cheddar and Gruyère, just enough flavor…ah getting hungry. The downsides of this recipe are: 1) it makes a lot of dishes, 2) if you freeze and reheat it, I find it is just too much mac and cheese for my family. So, I adjusted the recipe, and came up with bites. I can make and freeze the recipe, and then have them ready for last-minute appetizers or an easy lunch or dinner.
Here is my adjustments to the recipe:
6 tbps unsalted butter
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional…i do not use it)
4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyère
1 pound elbow macaroni
1 cup of seasoned breadcrumbs
1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Use non-stick cooking spray to prepare muffin tins (I use regular size tins)
2. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.
3. Slowly pour hot milk into flour-butter mixture while whisking. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.
4. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper (optional), 3 cups cheddar, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyère. Set cheese sauce aside.
5. Fill a large saucepan with water. Bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 fewer minutes than manufacturer’s directions. Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.
6. Add 1 cup of breadcrumbs to the mixture and 2 eggs; mix thoroughly.
7. Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin tins. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar and 1/2 cup Gruyère or 1/4 cup pecorino Romano; scatter breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until browned on top, about 20 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes; serve immediately or