It’s cold here in the Upper Midwest. Spring is too many weeks away. Punxutawney Phil fails us yet again. We tend to swaddle ourselves this time of year with bulky scarves, blankets, and bubbling hot baked treats.
What is the most comfy of comfort foods? Homemade mashed potatoes? Meatloaf? How about…
Baked Macaroni and Cheese and Beans.
- 1 – 1 1/2 cups (1 to 1.5 cups) uncooked macaroni
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- 3 Tablespoons flour
- 3 cups milk
- 2 – 3 cups grated extra sharp cheddar, or any combination of cheese. The sharper/drier the cheese, the less you need to use.
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 OR 2 cups cooked white beans (I used one 15oz. can of navy beans)
Optional, if you’re feeling sassy:
- 3 OR 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 OR 2 teaspoons dry or prepared mustard
- 1/2 cup (0.5 cup) white wine [reduce milk to 2 1/2 cups (2.5 cups)] Topping, also optional:
- 1 cup dry bread crumbs (or you can make toast and then crumb it)
- Fresh parsley, chopped, to taste
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Cook and drain the pasta, set aside. Preheat the oven to 350F.
- In a large sauce pot, melt the butter over medium heat. If you’re using garlic, add that now and saute until golden. Whisk in the flour and stir while the flour toasts. You want the paste to be a nice deep golden color, bordering on tan.
- If you’re using wine, add that first. Pour in the milk, continuously stirring (prevents lumps). Heat the roux, stirring regularly, until it’s as thick as you want your sauce to be. Season with salt, pepper, and mustard if you’re using it. Add the cheese about a half cup at a time, stirring until it melts.
- Gently stir in the cooked pasta and beans. Pour everything into a casserole dish.
- If you’re doing the topping, toss the breadcrumbs with the parm and parlsey, and maybe a little black pepper. Sprinkle this over the mac & cheese.
- Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes, until bubbly and a little toasted at the edges. If you’ve used the topping, look for a nice deep golden color in the topping.
Our family weighs in:
- Daughter declared “This is SO delicious!” And then she saw the beans. There was a scene. Next time I may puree the beans.
- Son declared it delicious too…then followed his sister’s lead.
- Husband liked it and had seconds.
- Me: ditto, like the husband
- We made the non-sassy version. I hope to try the sassy version some day.
- Serve with roasted broccoli – we made a kid friendly version of roasted broccoli. Salt, olive oil, 2 heads of broccoli, and a clove of sliced garlic. Roast in a tinfoil lined pan at 425F for 20 – 25 minutes. Or if you are really feeling sassy, give this Amateur Gourmet Roasted Broccoli a try.