Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tasty Tuesday -- Ratio Macaroni and Cheese

To keep you all up to date -- I am getting along quite well for somebody with a broken nose! The swelling is only moderate, and 99% of the pain is from the bruises and brush burns. I haven't needed the prescription pain meds at all and am getting by with just ibuprofen. The gory picture still hasn't been taken, but since my out-of-town kids want to see, it will be coming.

Yesterday we didn't really have supper as a family. We did the All-American thing and had fast food at different times. I am happy to report that a Wendy's double stack is very eatable with a damaged face if you cut it into bites with kitchen shears. (I also have a fat upper lip ....) But I already had this casserole prepped and in the fridge, so tonight's supper is taken care of.

Ratio Macaroni and Cheese

This isn't really a recipe so much as a procedure. It can be varied up and down to serve as few or as many as you like.

Cook 1 cup elbow macaroni until almost done (about 5-6 minutes.) While water is boiling, melt* 3 tablespoons butter or margarine. Stir in 3 tablespoons flour, salt and pepper to taste. Slowly whisk in 1 cup milk**, and heat until thickened. Stir in 1 cup shredded cheese***. When macaroni is done, drain and stir into cheese sauce. Put in greased casserole and bake at 350F until**** browned and bubbly.

* I do all my sauce-making steps in the microwave, but you can do it in a pan on the stove if you prefer. If you pre-warm the milk it goes very fast.

** This can be any milk, skim to whole, or even half-and-half or cream if you're feeling luxurious.

*** Our family prefers extra-sharp cheddar, but you can use Swiss, or American, or something fancier. One cup shredded is roughly equivalent to 4 oz.

**** I don't give a cooking time, because this depends on the size of your batch, and also whether you pop it straight into the oven or make it in the morning and stick it in the fridge. Probably half an hour for the one cup batch warm, and going up from there. You could burn it if you left in the oven for hours, but if it's hot through it's edible, because all the ingredients are already cooked.

This quantity serves one, or two moderate eaters. I made it yesterday with 1 1/2 cups macaroni, because Roger loves it but Kelson won't eat it. (He'll probably have ramen.) The reason this is called "ratio" mac/cheese is the ease of scaling up. It's one macaroni to one milk to one cheese, with 3T butter and flour for each cup. Back when all the kids were home I would make it with four or five cups of macaroni, milk, and cheese. That filled a three-quart casserole!

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