Wednesday, November 14, 2012

recipe showdown: baked mac and cheese


Most of the trees in my neighborhood have lost their leaves.  I have to wear a coat to school everyday.  I've swapped my iced chai teas with pumpkin spice lattes.
What does this all mean?  It's time to whip out comfort food recipes!
Nothing hugs the soul on a chilly day like buttery, cheesy goodness.


I can't think of anything more "comforting" than a bowl of buttery noodles, swaddled in gooey cheese and topped with toasty bread crumbs.
I have a bunch of comfort recipes up my sleeve (mainly because they all look oh-so enticing when they pop up on my Pinterest board).  However, mac-and-cheese is the ULTIMATE comfort food, so I had to get this recipe out to you before Thanksgiving rolls around!

I tried recipes from some of my favorite blogs: The Cooking Actress, Martha Stewart, Brown Eyed Baker, and A Cup of Jo.
The winner of this Showdown was the Cooking Actress' Brown Butter Mac and Cheese. It won me over with that lovely, nutty aroma of brown butter.  I got nervous when my dad said that it was "interesting" (he is quite the traditionalist, and "interesting" isn't always great); however, he said that it was diffrerent in a good way.  The only change that I made to the Cooking Actress' recipe was I used Honey Wheat Ritz crackers as opposed to regular Ritz.  The Honey Wheat crackers added a nice sweetness to the dish, which complemented the sharp cheddar and parmesan.


If you've got a family full of kids (or adults), this will be much appreciated at your Thanksgiving table.  As always, feel free to challenge my recipe!
What is your favorite comfort food?
With love,
Erica

oh-so cheesy



Description
It bakes up thick, cheesy and bubbly with a Ritz cracker crust. Completely irresistible, I tell you.
A baked mac and cheese with a Panko bread crumb crust.  (I omitted the pancetta for consistency)
Famously comforting with real bread crumbs and a dash of nutmeg.
Traditional, baked macaroni and cheese with nutty brown butter and a Ritz cracker crust.
Tasters’ notes
Too much pepper!

Funny taste
Good

Crunchy

Too many bread crumbs
Enjoyable

More traditional

Love the nutmeg!

Cheesy crust
Less cheese

Interesting

Different

Brown butter = yum!

Love that you used honey wheat Ritz, it adds sweetness!
Rating (best = 1)
4
3
2
1
I'm ready for my close-up
Ingredients:
  • 12 oz. pasta (I used a combination of elbow macaroni and egg noodles)
  • 6 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • heaping 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese 
  • heaping 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup buttery crackers, crushed (I used Honey Wheat Ritz)
  • 2 tbsp. melted butter
Cook macaroni according to package directions, drain.
In a medium saucepan, melt 6 tbsp. butter over medium heat. Whisk constantly as it foams and then small brown flecks form. Immediately whisk in flour.
Add milk and continue to whisk over medium heat until smooth and thickened.
Whisk in cheeses until smooth and not clumpy.
Turn off heat. Pour cheese over cooked macaroni.
Prepare a large casserole/baking dish by spraying with non-stick cooking spray. Pour macaroni and cheese in.
Stir 2 tbsp. butter with the crackers. Sprinkle over the top of the mac'n'cheese.
Bake on middle rack of your oven on broil for 5-8 minutes (watch carefully to make sure it doesn't burn!).


From the Cooking Actress

14 comments:

  1. Oooh your mac n cheese looks beautiful! So glad you guys loved it!

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    1. Thank YOU for the recipe! Brown butter is truly a gift from the Gods.

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  2. Brown butter is heaven. Mac and cheese is heaven. Together...I can't even imagine. So excited to try this!

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    1. Please tell me if you try this! It is wonderful now that the air is chilly :)

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  3. I love the recipe showdowns. Keep'em coming.

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  4. You're awesome for doing this! Mac n cheese is my favorite meal ever and I never know what the best recipe to use is and don't want to waste my time and ingredients making one that's sub par. I'm going to try this one! By the way, my favorite mac n cheese to date is Pioneer Woman's. I'd love to know what you think of that recipe, too :)

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    1. Ohhhh that sounds like a challenge! I'm on it!

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  5. Love a good mac & cheese. I find most recipes out there don't give enough sauce the it can end up a dry dish. More sauce for me, yum.

    Soup has to be high on my list of comfort food.

    BTW Come check out The Monthly Blogger event over at The Spanish Wok, ALL bloggers are welcome. See here for details and current theme. You are also welcome to visit our FB page too here.

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    Replies
    1. Soup is one of my all time favorite meals.

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  6. Ms. Erica these all looks too delicious. Always looking forward to your showdown post!
    x

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! There should be another one very soon!

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  7. Made this recipe today... turned out just okay. The flour makes it really grainy feeling, not smooth.

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    Replies
    1. I'm sorry to hear that, you need to whisk the flour into the mix very vigorously to fully incorporate it. If you find a mac and cheese recipe that you prefer, I would love it if you emailed it my way -- I always love a challenge!

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