Mac and Cheese, Large Shells, ‘no-waste’ cheddar
Sifting through the hard, clear, plastic organizer in the refrigerator whose bin displays a white sticker labeled ‘CHEESE,’ there sat an assortment of parchment wrapped remnants from the holidays, in particular, lots of leftover cheddar.
Looking to put this to good use we have today’s Mac and Cheese, Large shells, ‘no-waste’ cheddar.
I’m off to lunch with Aunt Betty. You have to admire her generation who, in many cases through sheer ingenuity were quite creative in whipping up dishes using up this and that between leftover food ingredients including through an enduring ‘no waste’ era.
Perhaps she will have some additional tips to share too, for at 89, when it comes to food, cooking, and ‘no waste’ tips her inspiration is quite extraordinaire.
- butter 1 tablespoon plus 2 tablespoons plus 3 more
- 2 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
- 3 cups milk
- 1 onion, peeled, cut in half
- 2 bay leaves
- 8 peppercorns
- 2 stalks celery, cut in half
- 1 pound box large shell pasta, macaroni, or another smaller shaped pasta already in your pantry
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups, more or less cheddar or combination of any leftover hard cheeses, shredded
- couple pinches nutmeg
- coarse kosher salt
- cracked black pepper
- 1 greased casserole dish
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Grease a casserole dish with one tablespoon butter
- In a small nonstick pan melt two tablespoons butter on low heat, sprinkle in the panko bread crumbs, stir, cook for two minutes, just before browning, turn off heat, set aside
- Pour milk into a medium sized saucepan along with the onion, bay leaves, peppercorns, and celery, heat mixture on very low heat for around ten minutes, turn off heat and let mixture set for another ten minutes for flavors to infuse
- Strain milk and return to saucepan, set aside
- Cook shell pasta to el dente in salted, boiling water,
- Meanwhile, melt 3 tablespoons butter into a large skillet on medium low heat, whisk in the flour and cook for two to three minutes until the scent of the flour diminishes and flour is beginning to color, reduce heat to very low, ladle some of the infused milk into the butter and flour mixture and whisk until well incorporated, add another ladle whisking well again, increase heat a bit, and pour remaining milk into the flour mixture, whisking well until very smooth
- Stir in the cheese and melt through
- Stir in a couple pinches nutmeg, salt and pepper
- Drain shell pasta, sprinkle through another pinch or so of salt to taste, then tumble into the cheese sauce. Stir well to evenly combine, transfer the blended shells in cheese sauce into the greased casserole dish, cover with aluminum foil, set onto a parchment lined baking sheet
- Bake twenty minutes
- Remove casserole from oven and take off the aluminum foil, sprinkle the panko bread crumb mixture across the top, return to oven and cook until bubbling and lightly golden browned on top another fifteen minutes or longer