Recipe 39: Alton Brown’s Baked Macaroni and Cheese (a-la Loverman)

Well here it is, the last recipe of this endeavor.  Alas, I did not meet my goal of 52 recipes for 2012 – but I did get 75% of the way there!  That counts for something, I suppose.  In retrospect, hoping for a recipe per week was a bit overzealous: Even though I love me some mac (um, obviously), I can’t even begin to describe just how sick of it I became.  Despite the many variations, the many recipes still waiting in my list of bookmarks to be made, there is only so much carbs-and-cheese a person can take without getting utterly weary of it.

While the challenge is over, I will still probably update with recipes here and there, but since my culinary focus will be diverted elsewhere, the updates will likely be sparser than they were when this blog first began.  Though, to be fair, they have become pretty sparse lately.

Anyway, this mac actually comes courtesy of the hubz.  On a night we were both home, he made dinner – and he made this mac.  As I mentioned way, way back at Recipe 1, Loverman is something of an Alton Brown fanboy, so I find it fitting that we should end 2012 with another Alton Brown recipe.  However, the original recipe called for some ingredients that he left out, and omitted some that he included, so it’s not a pure Alton Brown-ism.  Thus the addendum “a-la Loverman.”

Alton Brown’s Baked Macaroni and Cheese a-la Loverman (adapted from this recipe from Food Network)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni (Loverman used corn penne instead)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour (or gluten-free alternative)
  • 1 tablespoon powdered mustard
  • 3 cups milk (Loverman used cream-top from Pittsford Farms Dairy)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 large egg
  • 12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
  • “A fair amount of ham, fried to enhance the hamminess” (Loverman’s description, not mine)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup crushed cereal to use as topping (we had a combination of rice Chex and corn Chex… The original recipe called for panko; I think Loverman didn’t realize we had some gluten-free panko in the cupboard)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it’s free of lumps. Stir in the milk, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.

Cut ham into bite-size pieces and fry up.

Temper in the egg (Loverman says this was the trickiest part). Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the ham and macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.

Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the crushed cereal to coat. Top the macaroni with the crushed cereal. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

Here are the leftovers.

Here are the leftovers.

Verdict: 4/5

This was nice, and I admit the “hamminess.”, which was not included in the original, added a nice taste and textural element that I feel would have left the original lacking.  The hubz made a double-batch, so we had leftovers for a while, but they were definitely welcome.

 

I hope you have enjoyed reading of this challenge I undertook for 2012, even if I was unable to complete it.  Again, there will likely be some updates to come as well, though they will not be as frequent.  And here’s to a happy and healthy 2013!

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