Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Macaroni and Cheese (Ron con con)

Wow, I have been writing a food blog for almost 9 months and I have yet to put this recipe up? Chalk that one up to some serious memory impairment. Sheesh. This dish is the first savory dish I ever made on my own. I was 7 and I was hungry, and as any child, I went to my mother and asked her what was for dinner. She replied "whatever you make". Being the hungry kid that I was, I set about trying to make macaroni. Meaning, I got out the ingredients on the counter and asked my mom what to do next. With a little bit of help I turned out a pretty good side dish for dinner (we made pork chops to go along with it). To this day I have altered this recipe very little. In fact, the only change is the cheese split, I used to use all Colby jack (melty) until I discovered how awesome cheddar was in this.

The recipe is straight forward. Make a b├ęchamel sauce (roux + milk), add cheese, add pasta, bake. The secret, super amazing part I credit to my father, who for the longest time mysteriously made better macaroni and cheese than my mom but no one knew why. Turns out he just added a cube of chicken bullion. You know, the stuff I don’t like to use as a substitute for my chicken stock. But it has many other uses. Such as making amazing mac and cheese. That and the fact that this stuff is under a buck for eight cubes gives it a place in my spice cabinet.

One last note is the pasta. I like rigatoni way more than elbows because of the bigger tube that can pick up more sauce, but its totally a preference thing. Oh, and it is sometime referred to as "ron con con" because my girlfriend called it that when she was a baby. No idea why, but it is what it is.

Macaroni and Cheese

1 pound rigatoni noodles (or elbows or some kind of short tubular pasta)
3 T Butter
3 T flour
3 C milk
1 cube chicken bullion (if you have a smaller cube, use two, if large, go one)
8 oz Colby jack cheese, shredded (2 cups)
6 oz sharp cheddar, shredded (1.5 cups)

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and stir, cooking the roux for about 3 minutes. Slowly add the milk and bullion cube, whisking to combine (if you want it to cook faster, warm your milk before hand). Reduce heat to medium low. When the sauce thickens, add the cheese a little at a time, switching to a wooden spoon and stirring constantly. Add all of the cheese and mix until cheese is melted.

Meanwhile, boil pasta (making sure to heavily salt the water and add a small amount of oil) until al-dente, cooking it a little under (it will absorb sauce). Drain (but do not rinse) and add pasta to a 9x12 baking dish (or something that will hold a pound of pasta and can go in your oven). Pour the sauce over the pasta, mix well, cover with foil, and bake for 20-30 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and delicious.

UPDATE: Feel free to leave comments below, you don't even need to be signed in :)

UPDATED UPDATE: I altered the recipe a bit above, as I mistakenly listed the amounts of each cheese needed.


Anonymous,  August 27, 2008 at 10:59 PM  

Great blog, and some tasty recipes!

Catherine,  September 5, 2008 at 12:14 PM  

Hey, I tried the recipe, and while I liked the overall flavor (very tasty), my sauce came out a little on the grainy side. I looked up some possible causes and some sites suggested that it possibly could have been the heat (I cooked on medium, but that's relative with stoves, esp electric ones) or the fat content of the milk (I think that I used 1%...maybe 2%). I plan to make those changes next time to see if the texture improves. I was wondering if you had come across these issues in making it previously?

Skylar Wolfe September 7, 2008 at 10:36 AM  

Yes, I have come across this problem. And I blame myself for why your sauce came out grainy. First thing, yes, reduce the heat when you start adding cheese. This will prevent it from seperating in the suace, causing the grains. Second, switch the recipe. I already changed it above, but there should be more colby-jack than cheddar because the melting properties of straight cheddar in a sauce are poor. Sorry about that! The milk should be fine with 1%, I have actually found 1% works better than 2% in the sauce.

Catherine,  September 9, 2008 at 10:40 PM  

Thanks! I'll give it a try again sometimes. Right now I'm still working through the other batch :) I turned some of it into a tuna noodle concoction with peas and onions...kinda tasty actually. I love leftovers!

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