When the weather turns cool, I find myself spending a lot more time in my kitchen: cooking, baking, and in general, making up for all pasta and no-effort hot weather meals that I fed my family during the summer. One of my favorite cool-weather dishes is baked macaroni and cheese, and it seems like the cheesiest, most delicious, warm-your-soul-best homemade mac and cheese recipes are handed down from moms and grandmas of days gone by.
My favorite macaroni and cheese recipe comes from one of the best little-known cookbooks ever, The Modern Family Cookbook. I have the newfangled edition, put out in 1958, but the original was released in 1942, and written by Meta Given, an obscure and long-forgotten culinary genius. This cookbook has been the source of many a recipe staple in my cooking repertoire.
I’ve made a few minor tweaks to this classic baked macaroni and cheese recipe, but not too many, since it’s hard to improve on sheer perfection.
Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Adapted from Meta Given’s The Modern Family Cookbook
8 ounces elbow macaroni
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup water
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
8 oz. package grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup grated Romano
1 tsp mustard powder
Dash freshly ground pepper
Crumbled crackers, bread crumbs or additional cheese for topping (optional)
Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a rapid boil. Add macaroni noodles and cook until tender. Drain in a colander and rinse well with hot water.
Melt butter over medium heat in the same saucepan you used to cook the noodles. Whisk in flour until it boils and thickens. Slowly whisk in evaporated milk, followed by one cup of water until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Then stir in beaten egg, salt, sharp cheddar, Parmesan, Romano, mustard powder and ground pepper, and stir until cheese is melted.
Gently stir macaroni noodles into cheese sauce. Pour into a buttered casserole dish. Top with breadcrumbs, extra cheese, or crushed crackers if you like, and bake at 400 degrees for around 15 minutes or until toasted on top.
This recipe claims to serve five, but we had enough for generous side dish servings and three lunch servings to reheat for the following day.
The Modern Family Cookbook, Meta Given, copyright 1958