I want to take you back to a Saturday morning in a bygone era. Women were strolling along streets and boulevards dressed to the nines, some even wearing hats and gloves, on their way to shop. I know this will be hard for many of you to believe, but there was a time when people actually got dressed up to go shopping.
To many it was an all-day event where they’d take a break in the middle of the day, a genteel interlude where they would satisfy their other hunger. And if they felt a little naughty, they might order a glass of pinot grigio to sip with their lunch.
Lincoln, Nebraska, was our closest city for such an adventure, and a favorite place for lunch was a restaurant in one of the downtown department stores. Their signature dish was macaroni and cheese. A big cinnamon roll was included, and it was oh, so delicious.
Several years ago a friend mentioned that they too remembered the dish, and they gave a perfect description of its tangy, creamy, gooey goodness. It triggered a yearning in me so great I knew I had to taste it again, and the search for the perfect mac and cheese recipe immediately began.
I tried several recipes, but none of them came close to measuring up to the mac and cheese of my past. Then I searched specifically for mac and cheese using the store’s name (it had closed in the late 1980s), and lo and behold, up popped a recipe. I tried it, and it tasted exactly as I remembered.
It calls for a popular cheddar-flavored cheese spread sold in small jars, and that’s the secret ingredient. I also like to add some chopped onion and Kalamata olives to make it even better.
I need to warn you, I gained some weight trying all of the macaroni and cheese recipes, and this is the most sinful of the lot. It contains 991 calories, 31 grams saturated fat, and 2250 mg of sodium, but just once in a while you need to treat yourself to something as decadent as this dish. And then it’s back to eating smart again.
Macaroni And Cheese (Midwestern Interlude)
2 slicesBread white
2 TbspButter melted
3 cupsMacaroni elbow (2 cups cooked = 1 cup dry)
2 jarsCheese spread cheddar-flavored
OptionalOnion finely chopped
OptionalOlives Kalamata chopped
To tasteSalt and pepper
Cover top withParmigiano-Reggiano freshly grated hard
Enter Target Time _______________
Preheat the broiler.
Time: __________ (50 minutes prior to target time)
Make bread crumbs by finely chopping 2 slices of bread in a food processor. Drizzle in the melted butter and paprika.
Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain well.
In an appropriately sized saucepan, melt butter over low heat.
Whisk in flour until paste forms (roux).
Gradually whisk in milk until smooth. Bring to a boil over moderately high heat, whisking until thickened.
Off the heat, stir in the cheese until melted.
Add macaroni to hot cheese sauce and stir to coat. Transfer to appropriately sized dish.
Sprinkle on grated hard cheese and bread crumbs.
Broil 4 inches from the heat for 4 minutes until richly browned.Let rest for 15-20 minutes.
This goes great with cinnamon rolls.