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Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni e Formaggio al Forno
Macaroni and cheese is without question one of those Italian American dishes that says comfort food. Some myths link Thomas Jefferson with introducing it at a White House dinner. He may have imitated the English version of macaroni and cheese which was baked in the oven with cream. The dish was known in Europe, mainly enjoyed by upper classes, and after the American Civil War, a number of pasta making factories opened which allowed macaroni products to become more affordable to all. Needless to say there are countless versions of the dish, embellished with everything from vegetables to cured meats and leftovers like chicken and turkey. Suffice it to say that macaroni and cheese is here to stay and will always be evolving into something grander than its original form. This version is a favorite of my children. SERVES 8 to 10

Ingredients

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons flour

Three 12 ounce cans low fat evaporated milk

1 teaspoon dry mustard

Salt to taste

Grinding black pepper

3 cups grated Swiss, Fontina or cheddar cheese

1 pound cooked bow ties, elbow or rigatoni

2 1/2 cups cooked ham, cubed

2 cups cooked broccoli florets cut into small pieces

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Melt the butter in deep (10 x 3 inch) casserole dish or Dutch oven over low heat. Stir in the flour and whisk to make a smooth paste; do not let it brown. Over medium heat, slowly whisk in the milk and dry mustard. Continue whisking until the sauce begins to thicken enough to coat a spoon. Do not make the sauce too thick. Add salt and pepper to taste and stir in 2 cups of the cheese until the mixture is smooth. Turn off the heat. Stir in the macaroni, ham and broccoli and mix well. Season again if necessary.

Sprinkle the remaining cup of cheese evenly over the top of the casserole. Cover and bake for 30-35 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 minutes longer or just until the cheese forms a nice brown crust. Serve directly from the pot.

This recipe is from show 2106 – Macaroni.

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