We LOVE macaroni and cheese - and really, who doesn’t? The way we see it there are two styles of creamy, pasta-y goodness. There's the French style with a thick, mellow bechamel base and a mix of velvety cheeses and then there's the classic Southern style - bright and sharp, made with cheddar and traditional elbows. Generally we refuse to take sides, but the other night we were really looking for some down home cookin'.
A few years ago we visited Nashville and, predictably, spent most of our time in "meat and 3" spots (in which mac 'n' cheese basically counts as a vegetable) where we had a bit of a culinary revelation. What really set apart their version of the dish was how deeply tangy it was, a result of finely grated onion and sour cream. To replicate it, we turned to one of our favorite Southern cookbooks, The Gift of Southern Cooking, bought some sharp cheddar from Beecher’s, macaroni from Eataly, and one of every dairy product Ronnybrook produces. To go with the mac we cooked up some Flying Pigs pork chops and put together a salad - to add some color and "reduce" our risk of heart attack.
Adapted from The Gift of Southern Cooking by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock
+ 8 oz. macaroni
+ 12 oz sharp cheddar (6 oz cubes, 6 oz grated)
+ 2 tbsp, plus 1 tsp flour
+ 2/3 cup sour cream
+ 2 eggs, lightly beaten
+ 1/3 cup grated onion
+ 1 1/2 cups half and half
+ 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
+ 1 ½ tsp salt
+ 1 ½ tsp dry mustard
+ ¼ tsp pepper
+ a pinch cayenne
+ ¼ tsp of freshly grated nutmeg
+ 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1. Cook the macaroni in large a pot until just tender (a minute or two before the box says). Drain well and transfer to a buttered 9 x 13 baking dish.
2. Mix in the cubed cheddar and preheat oven to 350.
3. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Add sour-cream and the eggs, whisk until well blended.
4. Whisk in onion, cream, half and half, and Worcestershire until blended.
5. Pour mix over the macaroni and sprinkle top with grated cheese.
6. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until the custard sets but still jiggles. Finish under broiler for a minute to brown the top. Let cool for ten minutes.
Serves 6 (with leftovers!)