Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Creamy Macaroni and Cheese with Ham
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 pound elbow pasta, cooked and drained
4 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup (spooned and leveled) all-purpose flour
4 cups milk
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, (optional)
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) shredded yellow cheddar cheese
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) shredded white cheddar cheese
8 ounces ham, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
2 white sandwich bread
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook pasta, and drain; reserve. Meanwhile, in a 5-quart heavy pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Whisk in flour to coat onion. In a slow steady stream, whisk in milk until there are no lumps.
Cook, whisking often, until mixture is thick and bubbly and coats the back of a wooden spoon, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in cayenne & nutmeg, if using, and 1 cup each yellow and white cheddar cheese. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Toss pasta with cheese mixture; fold in ham.Transfer to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or individual dishes (see note, below left). Set aside.
(This topping is the best and would be great on anything where you need a breaded topping....cheesy, crunchy, yum!) In a food processor, pulse bread until large crumbs form. Toss together with remaining 1/4 cup each white and yellow cheddar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Top pasta with breadcrumb mixture. Bake until top is golden, about 30 minutes
I always add nutmeg. Just add a dash or two. It adds a kick without making you think. Hmmm...there's nutmeg in this. Also, the cyanne pepper is a really great addition. I just add all one kind of cheese.