Macaroni and Cheese Casserole

There’s something magical that happens when you mix pasta and cheese; some essential element is released that creates a feeling of comfort. My mother is famous for her macaroni and cheese casserole. I cannot remember a single holiday celebration where there wasn’t a giant casserole dish filled with her mac and cheese. I really wanted to create a dish that was just as good as my mothers, and I think I came pretty darn close.  Creamy, cheesy, and just a little redneck (courtesy of cheese crackers), this recipe turns out great every single time I make it

Ingredients

12 oz (about ¾ of a box) Elbow Pasta
½ Yellow Onion
3 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
¼ Cup Flour
1 ¾ Milk
8 oz Sharp Cheddar Cheese
¼ tsp Salt
¼ tsp Pepper
½ box Cheese Crackers (I used Cheese Nips)

Directions

Preheat over to 400 degrees F.

Cook pasta in boiling water for 6 minutes, or until just al dente. Drain pasta and set aside.

Finely chop onion and add to large skillet along with olive oil and two tablespoons butter.
Note: The olive oil allows the butter to come to a higher cooking temperature without burning.

Over medium heat, sauté the onions until they become translucent and tender. Sprinkle the flour evenly over the onions and cook for one minute. Add the milk to the pan slowly, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Cook for about two minutes, stirring constantly, or until the sauce has thickened and can coat the back of a spoon.

Grate the cheese and add to the pan, setting 1/3 cup of cheese to the side for topping the casserole. Stir the sauce until the cheese has melted completely and become fully incorporated. Add salt and pepper.

Add the pasta to the sauce (here’s where it pays to use the large pan) and stir together. Pour the whole delicious mess into a 13×9 casserole dish.

Add the crackers to a bowl and crush with the back of fork.  Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter and mix into the crushed crackers. Distribute the cracker mixture and remaining cheese evenly over the casserole.

Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and started to brown. Serve.

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