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Baked Mac & Cheese


 

There is only so much you can say about Macaroni and Cheese.  It's pasta and it's cheese - what's not to love?!  I've generally preferred stove-top mac & cheese to baked, but I definitely see where baked mac & cheese has it's place.  It's great to entertain with because you can make it in advance earlier in the day, or even the night before, and pop it in the oven before serving.  

When looking for a baked mac & cheese recipe that would be creamy enough to prepare in advance, I stumbled across this recipe on Pioneer Woman.  I've never met a recipe of hers that I didn't fall in love with, so I knew this had to be tried as well.  I prepared this recipe earlier in the day and several hours later after baking it was still creamy and flavorful.  Definitely a winner!  Plus, with this recipe can even be enjoyed before baking.  However, I did notice when taste testing that the mustard flavor was pretty powerful before baking, so if I do make this recipe in plans of serving straight from the stove-top, I'll reduce the amount of dry mustard to suit my personal preferences.


Baked Mac & Cheese
Ingredients:
4 cups Dried Macaroni
1 whole Egg Beaten
¼ cups (1/2 Stick Or 4 Tablespoons) Butter
¼ cups All-purpose Flour
2-½ cups Whole Milk
2 teaspoons Dry Mustard
1 pound Cheese, Grated (I used 3 Cheddars - Sharp, White and Mild)
½ teaspoons Salt
½ teaspoons Seasoned Salt
½ teaspoons Ground Black Pepper
¼ - ½ teaspoons of any optional spices such as: Cayenne Pepper, Paprika, Thyme, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Cook macaroni according to package directions until slightly firm.  Drain and set aside.

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat.  Whisk in the flour and cook the mixture for five minutes, whisking constantly and being careful not to burn.  Add the milk to the pot, stir in the dry mustard, and whisk until smooth.  Cook the mixture for five minutes until very thick.  Reduce the heat to low. 
In a small bowl, beat the egg.  Take 1/4 cup of the warm sauce and slowly pour it into the beaten egg, whisking constantly to avoid scrambling the egg.  Whisk until smooth.  Pour the tempered egg mixture back into the sauce, whisking constantly.  Stir until smooth.  Mix in the cheese, reserving about half a cup for topping, and stir until completely melted.  Add in seasonings.  Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.  Add the drained cooked macaroni to the pot and mix well.
Pour the mixture into a baking dish, top with reserved cheese, and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden and bubbly on top.
Note - if you prepare it in advance you might want to cover with foil and bake 30-40 minutes, removing the foil at about 20 minutes so it doesn't dry out.

Source:
Pioneer Woman

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