It was the late comedian Mitch Hedberg who said, “fettuccine alfredo is just macaroni and cheese for grownups.”
Turns out, though, that there are plenty of ways to make the classic childhood favorite a bit more … adult.
A brief history lesson
The origins of this most basic dish are very unclear. What we do “know” is that it likely originated in the United States. There’s a story that attributes its popularity to being first served in the White House by President Thomas Jefferson.
This story has no documentation and is widely regarded as false. Though we’d like to believe it’s true, because that would be one heck of a resume: “Third president of the United States, author of the Declaration of Independence, founder of the University of Virginia, inventor of the best late-night college snack ever.”
Teaching an old dog new tricks
Mac & cheese — which has a fan base that definitely skews to the younger demographics — has found surprising popularity in fine dining circles of late.
The simple two-ingredient base recipe is perfectly suited to variations ranging from different pastas with different cheeses (we can call this the “fettuccine alfredo corollary”) to multiple additions and creative cooking methods.
The mac’s important, but cheese is the key
While not taking anything away from the importance of the macaroni, today’s indulgent recipe is all about the cheese.
Mixing the sharp (cheddar and Parmigiano-Reggiano) with the mild yet substantial (cottage), this recipe is easily prepared and baked in a regular or countertop oven. It calls for regular ol’ elbow macaroni but will taste just as indulgent if prepared with penne, rigatoni, farfalle, or even cavatappi.
Marvelous Mac & Cheese
- 1 (8-ounce) package elbow macaroni
- 1 (8-ounce) package shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
- 1 (12-ounce) container small curd cottage cheese
- 1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
- ¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup dry bread crumbs
- ¼ cup butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil, add pasta, and cook until done; drain.
- In 9×13 inch baking dish, stir together macaroni, shredded Cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.
- In a small bowl, mix together bread crumbs and melted butter. Sprinkle topping over macaroni mixture.
- Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until top is golden.