I just finished reading a book (Cooking for Mr. Latte) written by Amanda Hesser, a food writer for the New York Times. In one of her chapters she writes, "I have a few favorite dishes, I rarely make them." She goes on further to describe those old tried and true recipes, "You know, ones that I'll want to return to for years and years. You make it again and again, altering it to your liking, it becomes an expression of you aesthetic, of your palate, of who you are. And when you serve that dish to guests, they come to understand you a little better."
I couldn't help but connect with her words. This blog keeps me on the chase. I am constantly trying new things and I rarely make anything twice. That wouldn't be so interesting if I continued to post the same recipe every week. So in the last six months I have posted about 90 different recipes on this blog and have never featured my "signature" dish. The dish I bring to all gatherings that are food focused. The dish that I have probably made a couple of dozen of times. The dish that I believe identifies part of me. The dish that tells so much about my childhood eating habits........
Growing up I was a very picky eater. I can remember my Thanksgiving plate had Artichoke Dressing, Crescent Rolls and "The Dish". Baked Macaroni and Cheese. For years it was one of the only side items at gatherings that I truly enjoyed. And it reminds me of the holidays. Even though times have changed and these days my plate is running over with everything available, I still crave that classic dish. It wouldn't be Thanksgiving (or Christmas, or Easter, or - ok you get the point) without that side item. So if I were home this Thanksgiving, I would most assuredly bring my Golden Macaroni and Cheese to my mom's house and would like to suggest it to the members of my family who will be pitching in to help my mom this year with Thanksgiving dinner.
Golden Macaroni and Cheese
Adapted from Southern Living 2004 Annual Recipes
1 (8-ounce) package elbow macaroni
2 cups milk (I use whole milk)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon onion salt
2 (10-ounce) blocks sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded and divided ( I use one block of Sharp Cheddar and one block of Extra-Sharp Cheddar cheese)
1 cup soft plain breadcrumbs ( The recipe suggest homemade breadcrumbs, but I use store bought - not Italian breadcrumbs, just plain)
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted (I use butter)
COOK macaroni according to package directions; drain well. Set aside.
PLACE milk, flour, and onion salt in a quart jar; cover tightly, and shake vigorously 1 minute.
STIR together flour mixture, 3 1/2 cups cheese, and macaroni.
POUR macaroni mixture into a lightly greased 13x9 baking dish or 2 (11 inch) oval baking dishes.
Sprinkle evenly with breadcrumbs and remaining 1 cup cheese; drizzle evenly with melted butter.
BAKE at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
The easy method for making the thickener for the cheese sauce is the key to this recipe. You simply shake the ingredients in a jar - it is fool proof and fun! I know that Baked Macaroni and Cheese may not be the most traditional Thanksgiving side item, but I promise you it will be a hit if you decide to include it on your menu. The children at your dinner will be ecstatic, because what child doesn't love Mac n' Cheese? And the adults will be thankful for this classically rich dish as well.
In the past I have posted some recipes that could be considered Thanksgiving Day options as well. Check out the links below:
1. Pumpkin Pie
2. Artichoke Stuffing
3. Andouille Cornbread Dressing