Thanksgiving season is upon us. We have just about 3 weeks to plan and shop. What constitutes the perfect Thanksgiving dinner varies according to region and each particular family. To me, my childhood Thanksgiving dinner is the epitome of comfort food, so I may add to it, but there are certain items that must be on my table or it is not Thanksgiving dinner. These include a properly brined and well-seasoned turkey, bread stuffing, West Indian style potato stuffing, and baked macaroni and cheese.
This is not diet food. But instead of trying to make it low-fat, I say make it as decadent as you like, and then take a small portion of wonderfully, gloriously cheesy baked macaroni. What was that Shelby (Julia Roberts) said in Steel Magnolias? Something about a little bit of something wonderful being worth a whole lot of nothing special? Or something like that.
Bread crumb note – I used Panko bread crumbs for this post, but you could use regular bread crumbs instead, either seasoned or plain. You could also omit bread crumbs entirely.
Cheese note – You can mix any cheeses you like, as long as at least some is cheddar, and you have some nice melty cheese. I used half mozzarella and half cheddar for this post.
1 lb dry elbow macaroni
4 Tablespoons butter
2 cups shredded cheese (for richer version, add 1 additional cup of cheese)
3/4 cup milk, half and half, or cream
1 small onion, grated
2 eggs, beaten (for richer version, add 1 additional egg)
1 teaspoon Penzey’s Sunny Paris blend (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
¼-½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
1 cup cheese (for richer version, add 1 additional cup of cheese)
½ cup Panko bread crumbs (optional )
1 tablespoon butter, melted
Preheat oven to 325 F
Cook macaroni according to package directions, drain. Add butter. Stir until butter is completely melted. Let cool 10 minutes. Add milk, cheeses, onion, 2 beaten eggs, Sunny Paris seasoning, and salt and pepper to taste.
Pour out into baking tray that has been coated with cooking oil or nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle cheeses on top.
If using bread crumbs, mix them with the melted butter, then sprinkle on top of the cheese.
Cover the tray with aluminum foil, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil, and bake a further 15-25 minutes, until macaroni is set and cheese is melted on top. You can broil for a minute or two to give the breadcrumbs some color, if desired.