Recipe: Mom’s Baked Macaroni and Cheese
I recently asked my boys what they remember most about Great Grandma, whom we affectionately called Gigi. They started the list and quickly moved on to food. It was like a tennis match with them spouting off a litany of foods: homemade strawberry jam and biscuits; cranberry sauce; green beans with butter; and their all-time favorite, macaroni and cheese. My youngest ended the list stating we could never replicate Gigi’s Mac and Cheese.
I thought a great way to honor Gigi’s memory would be to take up the challenge and try to recreate her signature dish with my boys. I knew this would be a tough act to follow. Gigi always said that the secret to great baked pasta is crumbled crackers drizzled in butter. With no crackers on hand, I reached for some Panko crumbs in the pantry.
Japanese-style Panko breadcrumbs are lighter and crunchier than my bread crumbs. When I want crunch without the seasonings, I grab Panko. It has less than one-quarter of the sodium you find in plain bread crumbs and ten percent the sodium in seasoned breadcrumbs.
With this recipe substitution in mind, we searched for a recipe that met our other requirements—real cheese, elbow macaroni and a baked preparation. To my delight, we found this baked Macaroni and Cheese topped with Panko Crumbs by one of my favorite TV food chefs, Alton Brown.
We shared a magical night making this dinner and I know Gigi was right there with us as we set the table and poured the milk, seeing delight on everyone’s faces as we savored this delicious macaroni and cheese recipe.
This Mother’s Day celebrate by honoring your mom and grandmother with this nostalgic dish.
- 1/2 pound Elbow macaroni
- 3 teaspoon Butter
- 3 teaspoon Flour
- 1 teaspoon Powdered mustard
- 3 cups Milk
- 1/2 cup Yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 Bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon Paprika
- 1 Large egg
- 12 ounces Sharp cheddar, shredded
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- Fresh Black pepper
- 3 teaspoon Butter
- 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta to al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it's free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.
Beat the egg in a bowl and slowly add in some of the hot milk mixture then add to the pot. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining Cheese.
Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.
What does or did your mother or grandmother make that you remember fondly?
Trina Robertson, MS, RD is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition. As a HealthyEating.org Mom she shares her positive approach to healthy eating with the goal of inspiring others to prepare and enjoy foods from each of the food groups. As a Project Manager with the Dairy Council of California, Trina develops, evaluates, and promotes nutrition education materials for students and adults. At home she enjoys cooking and sharing meals with her family. Her most rewarding accomplishment is that her boys are good eaters and are learning to cook. Follow Trina on Twitter @TrinaR_RD and find more Healthy Eating ideas on Facebook.