Friday, July 16, 2010

fof: grandma's mac & cheese

The local eating experiment proceeds apace here. In the past two weeks, we enjoyed (well I did at least) eggplant, cucumbers, green beans, bell peppers, hot peppers and basil from our garden, along with blackberries, blueberries, peaches and red potatoes from local farms. The strawberries I planted just before the lettuce started to bolt are producing about a berry per day, which Terzo eagerly searches out each morning.

And tomatoes! The cherry tomatoes are coming in force, and the slicing tomatoes started about five days ago. The plum tomatoes are not far behind. I had my first pickled banana pepper and tomato sandwich of the season today. Hurray!

I thought I would get away from the seemingly inevitable newest-way-to-use-my-veggies post this week, but suffice it to say that we are eating a lot of fresh produce around these here parts. In fact, I think we are eating a wider variety, and in greater quantities, than we ever have before.

But I digress.

Today's post is for my husband's grandmother. Her name is synonymous in this house with macaroni and cheese, so much so that when we made scrapbooking pages for her 85th birthday a few years back, Primo chose a page printed with the familiar food.

Her recipe for the dish has been staple in our house since we were married. My entire family considers it soul food. At this point, my oldest can make it by himself and my youngest just started to learn. The best part is its simplicity: no need to make any complicated sauce. It is quick and easy but tastes like you went to a lot more trouble. My kind of cooking.

Start by picking your pasta; rotini or elbows work best.

While your pasta is cooking, beat a large egg in a measuring cup.

Add enough milk to make the total liquid equal 1.5 cups. Add salt and pepper to taste, and mix well. Set aside.

Drain pasta, and butter a large casserole dish. Keep the butter out! (I never said this was healthy.) Make a layer: 1/3 of your noodles and 3/4 C cheddar cheese -- sharpness is up to you. Top with a tablespoon of butter, cut into pieces.

Make a second layer, same as the first.

Make another layer, but this time leave off the butter. Pour your egg mixture evenly over the top instead, so the cheese is more or less coated.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees F for about 35 minutes or until your cheese reaches your desired level of crispiness.

Watch it disappear. It used to be enough for two meals in our house; now we are lucky to get one out of it, even served with meat!

Grandma's Macaroni & Cheese
1 lb pasta (elbows or rotini)
2.25 C cheddar cheese
1 large egg
1.25 C milk
3 T butter
salt and pepper to taste

Beat egg in measuring cup. Add milk until liquid equals 1.5 C, then salt and pepper to taste. Beat mixture together. Boil pasta until al dente; drain. Butter a large casserole dish. Make first layer: 1/3 of pasta and sprinkle with 3/4 C cheese, then add 1 T butter cut into pieces. Make second layer same as first. For third layer, pasta, then cheese, then pour egg mixture evenly over top. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees F for about 35 minutes.


  1. I wish we were any good at growing tomatoes in the short seasons up here. We are only at the blossom/small green tomato stage right now, and are usually racing late blight to get any off the vines at all. Roasted tomatoes are so good with macaroni and cheese. I like the looks of your recipe! It would make ours more local, since we have our own eggs, and local milk, butter and cheese curds from our grass-fed dairy. I think I'll try it.

  2. Wow! That's a new one on me... an egg mix for the sauce. Cool, I will need to try it.

    Around our house the Italian mac and cheese involves heating up whole heavy cream and melting as much gorgonzola in it as you want, mixing it with the cooked pasta and then baking. Yum! But in my book, any carbs and cheese go together very well!

  3. Egg mixture is the only way we make it in the South (unless you cheat and open a box of Kraft Mac n Cheese). It's just another casserole.