I’m sorry to say that even with all the excitement of Mac & Cheese Watch, 2008 (OK, perhaps I was the only excited) this recipe did nothing for me. As I suspected, it wasn’t cheesy enough for my taste, though that does make it lighter in flavor. It has more of a fresh milk flavor than cheese. Some of that was my fault: I chose a mixture of gruyere for texture and mild cheddar for color (thinking the boys would find orange more familiar for mac & cheese). Perhaps all gruyere (and boosting the quantity) would have helped.
I was hoping that all the liquid in the recipe, plus the absence of eggs, would make for a saucier result. But the final dish was still more casserole — you could cut it into squares — than a creamy, spoonable version. I already have a superb recipe for this type of dish from my aunt, so I just don’t need to add another to my rotation.
Note to self: maybe I need to stop BAKING my mac & cheese if I don’t want a BAKED quality. Hmmm.
I marketed the dish as “noodles and cheese” to the boys, since those are both things they like and this recipe turned out looking nothing like a box of Annie’s. They were surprisingly OK with it being set in front of them. A. wound up eating part of a bowl, plus an apple. I don’t recall if G. actually got a bite into his mouth — he wound up eating a couple of bowls of applesauce. At least they had fruit.
8 oz. elbow macaroni
1 1/4 c. milk
2 c. light cream
1 c. grated gruyere or cheddar (I used a mixture)
freshly ground pepper
The day before you plan to serve the mac & cheese:
Cook macaroni in boiling water for about 4 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water until cool.
Combine cooled pasta with remaining ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours. The pasta will absorb the milk mixture and expand.
Two hours before you want to serve the mac & cheese:
Remove from fridge and bring to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 400° F. Using a slotted spoon, place mixture in an 8×8 baking dish. Then pour remaining milk mixture over the noodles until the milk comes about 2/3 of the way up the pan. Discard the rest of the liquid.
Bake for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbling. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving — sauce will thicken while it cools.