Sunday, January 23, 2011

Original Macaroni & Cheese

In the south, this is the ultimate comfort food that gets introduced to us from a very young age.  As kids, when our parents and grandparents laid out that beautifully wrapped blue and orange box we knew we were in for a very special treat...we also knew that all other versions were merely impostors.  As a teenager, I recall discovering the creamer version of Mac and Cheese that had a very special cheese packet that when I opened it, the creamiest cheese would come pouring out and all was right with the world.  As I grew into my 20's, my palette began to grow as well & almost like a right a passage I began experimenting with creating my own version of this dish.  My very first experiment was passed down to me by a sweet & spunky lady that was the Executive Housekeeper at a hotel in Brentwood, TN.  Now, in the south there is no secret about the kinds of people us young folk want to get recipes from and I knew that she was the kind of lady that would be passing something onto me that I would never want to let go of and to this day this is the MOST requested recipe I have on hand.

12 oz elbow noodles
1 stick butter
12 oz Velvetta Cheese (cubed)
1 can evaporated/whole milk (this is a great alternative to Heavy Cream)
2 - 3 cloves garlic, grated
2 cups cheddar (reserve 1 cup for the top)
1 tsp smoked paprika
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
Cook noodles according to directions in large pot (don't forget to salt your water), drain & return to the pot. Reduce heat to medium low, add butter & stir to melt. Add velvetta & continue to stir to incorporate (be sure to watch it carefully, it can burn easily).  Once velvetta is almost melted, add milk, garlic, & 1 cup of the cheese.  Season with salt & pepper to taste. Transfer everything into a 9x13 baking dish. Top with the remaining cheese & sprinkle with paprika. 

Bake for approx. 15 mins or until bubbly & cheese has melted on top. 

Makes about 10-12 servings.

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