I interrupt this regularly-scheduled blogging about healthy meals to bring you . . .
Mac and Cheese! Homemade mac and cheese and I were at odds for years -- every recipe I had ever tried turned out greasy, stringy, lumpy, or otherwise unappetizing. Cook's Illustrated, THANK YOU! (Here is an approximation of the recipe . . . I wouldn't recommend making the changes the blogger made, though, as the evaporated milk and American cheese are both kind of crucial to keeping the sauce creamy and smooth.) I followed the printed recipe nearly to a T, including the buttery, parmesan-rich crumb topping, (which the blogger did not add . . .) and added about 3/4 lb baby spinach to the pasta water at the end of cooking for an attempt at adding some nutrition to what I would otherwise consider to be homemade junk food. :) (I also forgot to add the pasta water to the sauce, because I forgot to reserve any. Does anyone else have this "problem" remembering to reserve pasta water?) John has already requested this (sans spinach) for part of his birthday dinner . . . must be good! ;)
I think my favorite part about this recipe, however, is that it's reasonably simple, especially for a Cook's Illustrated version. (I often find their recipes unnecessarily complex, and only a little bit better than a much simpler version. Not so with this one!) The breadcrumb topping is whizzed up in a food processor, and the sauce is made in the same pot in which the noodles were boiled -- after draining, of course. :) No knife or cutting board required! I love the meditative effects of veggie-chopping just as much as the next healthy eater, but sometimes, it's nice to throw a few things together and call it done, ya know?
This recipe makes a HUGE amount, (I believe the printed recipe says it serves 8, but we get more like 10 to 12 servings at our house,) and holds well as leftovers. (Another flaw with most macaroni and cheese recipes . . . they are often awful leftover, but not this one! Stays creamy and delicious all week long.) I believe this would also be delicious after freezing, then thawing and baking -- score!