Waylan’s Baked Macaroni and Cheese By Waylan Barber
I remember sitting at my grandma’s table on summer afternoons waiting for Sunday dinner: fresh-from-the-garden cucumber salad, ham or homemade meatloaf, boiled corn and—my favorite—homemade baked macaroni and cheese. The rest of the year, macaroni and cheese meant boxed noodles and powdered cheese, but in grandma’s house such profane things were unheard of. When I first attempted to make this dish as an adult, naturally I called my grandma for her recipe. She kindly refused and told me to look it up. So, after experimenting with several recipes, I came up with my own version of this classic dish. My inlaws love it so much that I can’t go to a family gathering without it.
- ½ lb macaroni or penne pasta
- 1 small yellow onion (or ½ large), diced
- 4 Tbsp butter, divided
- 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 3 cups whole milk
- 12-16 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 tsp salt (to taste)
- ½ tsp ground pepper (to taste)
- 1 Tbsp yellow mustard
- 2 Tbsp panko bread crumbs (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Cook the pasta about one minute less than the instructions on the package, to al dente. Drain and set aside.
- Take half the butter and melt it in a thick bottomed two-quart pot.
- When the butter is melted, add the diced onion. Stir frequently over medium heat until the onion starts to caramelize, about 20 minutes. Don’t rush it.
- Once the onion is caramelized, add the rest of the butter.
- Once melted, add the flour, stirring constantly, until the mixture is the consistency of cake batter.
- Slowly add about a cup of milk, salt, pepper, and the mustard, stirring slowly.
- Add a ½ cup of the milk and two generous handfuls of cheese. Keep stirring.
- Once the cheese is melted into the milk, add the remaining milk and all but 3-4 oz of the cheese. Stir until just starting to bubble.
- Taste and adjust salt and pepper.
- Remove from heat and stir in pasta.
- Place mixture in a 7 x 11-inch casserole dish (9 x 9-inch also works) and sprinkle remaining cheese and breadcrumbs over the top.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the top is evenly browned. Let sit for 5 minutes before enjoying.
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Whether prepared as pie filling, or as a side dish, you will love the delicious flavor of Roasted Red Kuri Squash
- 1 Red Kuri Winter Squash, 3-4 lbs
- 2 Tbsp turbinado sugar
- 2 Tbsp butter, room temperature
- 2 cups water
- Salt and pepper, to taste (Omit if preparing for pie)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Add water to a 13×9-inch baking dish.
- Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds and stringy bits. Spread 1 Tbsp butter and sprinkle 1 Tbsp sugar in each cavity. Place squash cut side up in the prepared baking dish.
- Bake uncovered 40-60 minutes, or until squash can be easily pierced with a fork.
- Scoop out the flesh and mash with a fork, or bender for a smooth puree. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Serves 4-6 servings