Thursday, August 7, 2014

Baked Macaroni and Cheese (Alton Brown)

When Lena from Frozen wings suggested baked pasta as the theme for our bake-along with Joyce from Kitchen Flavours and me, I know that this theme will create endless possibilities...

However, all in my mind is I want to bake the most simple mac and cheese and I was wondering why???

According to Wikipedia, macaroni and cheese are known as mac and cheese, cheese macaroni, macaroni pie and macaroni cheese. It is a dish consisting of cooked macaroni pasta and cheese incorporating bread crumbs and mostly made with a white sauce. These days, there are wide selections of instant mac and cheese available on supermarket shelves. They are microwaveable, convenient and cheap! ... And this is why we had been eating these a lot when we were poor students!

I'm so glad that we are not students anymore!!! Having said that, we are neither gastronomists nor connoisseurs for fine food as eating out everyday is totally impossible for us. For me, I like to describe myself as a desperate working housewife who aspire to serve one man and one kid with good quality home-cooked food. To me, good quality food means food that are made of fresh, nutritional and real ingredients and definitely not the kind of instant mac and cheese that we used to eat.

For this bake-along, I like revolutionize our perception of mac and cheese and hope to make this pasta dish as gastronomic as possible... Although I have narrowed my choice to bake a simple mac and cheese, the choice of recipes is pretty endless. Me being indecisive? Yeah... I was tossed and lured between Nigella Lawson's, Martha Stewart's, Bobby Flay's, Paula Deen's, Jamie Oliver's and more... Possibly! Some of these choices says that it is the cheesiest, most perfect, easiest and even a killer recipe! And, I was seriously in the tough eeny, meeny, miny, moe situation!

Finally, I have my mind set to bake this highly rated Alton Brown's recipe... All for the fact that everything he wrote in his recipe is so straightforward and scientifically logical! Brilliant!

Me not eating instant mac and cheese? Definitely!
Me a gastronomic desperate housewife? Trying!
Me cooking with scientific knowledge? LOL! Possibly!

baked macaroni and cheese mac n cheese Alton Brown
Our simple but not instant baked macaroni and cheese
I sounded silly saying this... Here's the pack of macaroni that I use to bake my mac n cheese!
Cooking a roux with mustard
Stir in these ingredients and cook the sauce for about 10 mins
We are definitely not poor students as I'm using gruyère cheese to cook this dish... LOL!
Stir in the cooked pasta, salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, prepare this butter-panko mixture...
Assemble and bake this in a baking dish or ramekins.
All made with real ingredients! Delicious!

Here's the recipe from Food Network.
(with my modification in blue)

1/2 pound elbow macaroni
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1 tbsp powdered mustard
(I used Dijon mustard instead)
The mustard that I used
3 cups milk
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp paprika
(for my chilli hating son, I had to use the sweet Hungarian kind)
1 large egg
(I have used 1 whole egg to cook half of the recipe)
12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
(I'm using 200g gruyère cheese to cook half of the recipe)
1 tsp salt
fresh black pepper

3 tbsp butter
1 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350°F or 160°C fan forced.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it's free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten mins and remove the bay leaf.

Temper in the egg. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish or ramekins. Top with remaining cheese.

Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 mins. Remove from oven and rest for 5 mins before serving.

Note: Using half of the recipe, I have baked 6 portions of mac and cheese in 6 large ramekins at 160°C fan forced for 15 mins and at 160°C fan forced with top grill for another 5 mins.

Happy Baking
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Please note that the linky tool for bake-along is no longer available.


  1. Hi Zoe, I shared with Joyce on my big kids' impression on macaroni ...Your baked mac & cheese with butter & panko bread crumbs toppings looks yummy!

  2. This cheese sauce is so different from most of the recipe I came across. It has egg in it! How does it make a difference?

  3. Hi Zoe! I have never eaten Mac and Cheese because I am not much of a cheese fan. But macaroni I have eaten. My grandma loved to put them in chicken soup.

  4. Hi Zoe,
    Your real Mac n Cheese looks awesome! How I wish I can have a bowl from you :p

  5. Zoe!! You made 6 portions, so 13 is not a problem at all!! I love this recipe - I am a sucker for mustard! And I like Alton Brown. He is a bit of a nerd but he puts together a good show!

  6. Hi Zoe,
    Mac and Cheese seems to be a favourite with kids!
    I like your topping with the bread crumbs. I have tried Nigella's recipe before, but I prefer the one I've made from Rachel Allen's recipe.
    Yeah, there are so many recipes on Mac and Cheese, I think there should be a book on this alone! LOL!

  7. Cute ramekins filled with wonderful mac & cheese. Yums!

  8. This looks fantastic!! I just did a tomato sauce pasta bake a few days ago and I've been eating the extra the last few days! I definitely need to try out some of alton's his meat loaf!

  9. hi zoe! i was telling joyce that i hv not eaten mac and cheese before....perhaps in the earlier days i was afraid that it might be too creamy and cheesy for me ..but now as time goes by, i can tolerate the level of creaminess much better,,,hehe..and i also think the bread crumbs is a good addition that gives the extra crunchiness to the dish.

  10. Panko topping is great on tray baked. Lovely!

  11. I love this, Zoe! I think I'll add more stuff into it. Mac and cheese and seafood and ^.^