Better-than-Blue-Box Mac and Cheese
From John’s friend and our fabulous extended house guest, Matt
As I’ve mentioned before and you could probably guess anyhow, one of the main reasons we bought our house was for the great kitchen. But believe it or not we did have a few other criteria, one of which was a nice spare bedroom for out-of-town friends, overindulged party-goers, and in the case of the past two weeks a newly arrived Chicagoan in search of an apartment.
When we found out John’s college roommate/frat brother/groomsman Matt was moving here from New York we were quick to offer him our extra room until he could find his own place. Of course two seconds after suggesting it I had scenes from the movie “You, Me and Dupree” running through my head and wondered if we’d made a big mistake. But as it turns he’s been the ideal boarder, aided in part by the fact that he loves to cook [and he signed an April 5th lease just days after arriving :)].
John and I have been super busy lately getting ready for our big Easter bash, so Matt generously offered to make us dinner last night. When he claimed to possess an amazing recipe for mac and cheese we were admittedly skeptical, as we are quite committed to our own personal masterpiece. But when he mentioned that he learned to make it when he was 2 years old and presented a scanned image of the original recipe, we were way too curious to say no.
The original recipe, circa 1987.
As it turns out this version of mac and cheese is beyond easy to make and tastes just like good old Kraft blue box, except about 100 times better and with about 100 less chemical-sounding ingredients. Over the years he’s made a few tweaks to the original recipe, reducing the butter a bit and upping the cheese, but he says it’s pretty fool-proof regardless of exact measurements. I’m positive this would be a great kid pleaser, and it went over pretty well with the 20-something crowd as well!
- 1 lb rigatoni (we used penne because we couldn’t find rigatoni)
- 9 Tbsp (1 stick + 1 Tbsp) butter, divided
- 22 oz shredded cheese, divided (any mix would probably be fine, but we used equalish parts sharp cheddar, monterey jack and colby)
- 12 oz sour cream
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup panko
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Cook pasta according to package directions.
- Drain pasta.
- Place 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter at the bottom of the still-hot pot that you just cooked the pasta in.
- Pour hot, drained pasta back into the pot, on top of the butter. Add cheese, sour cream, milk and salt to pot. Stir together until butter and cheese are melty.
- Whisk the egg in a small bowl and add to pasta mixture. Be sure to add the egg last so the pasta isn’t quite so hot and you don’t cook the egg when it hits the mixture.
- Pour into a 9×13 baking dish. Bake 20 minutes.
- While pasta bakes, melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a small bowl in the microwave. Stir in panko.
- After 20 minutes remove pasta from oven. Increase oven temp to broil.
- Sprinkle panko over pasta. Broil until browned, about 3 minutes.