Mac & Cheese with Béchamel Sauce

Mac & Cheese

A miracle happened last night . . .  the hubby and I actually stayed awake to watch an entire movie! We rented Chef and if you haven’t seen it, it is a must in my book.  Yes the food is amazing but it was really the story that hit home for me, trying to find that perfect balance between your passions, your career and your personal life.  A struggle that I have grappled with, even before our little guy showed up.

Without giving too much of the premise away the main character is on a journey to find himself and what he used to love about cooking, as well as figure out a place for his family in that new life.  Sound familiar?  Beyond totally empathizing with the main character, I also took a way some key pieces of advice.

  1. Adding softened butter to the pan before making grilled cheese is a great technique for getting that lovely golden color.
  2. I need to go to New Orleans to have a Beignet.
  3. Sometimes you over think things and make them way more complicated then they have to be, but when you take a step back and see the simplicity in what you are trying to do, it just makes everything that much easier.

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Take mac & cheese for example.  I have this amazing recipe from the New York Times that I use religiously for making my mac & cheese to rave reviews from friends and family (I promise to share).  I excitedly whipped it up for my son’s first birthday because he LOVES himself some mac & cheese, but was left disappointed when it went virtually untouched.  While it is a pretty simple recipe in terms of executing, I can see how it could be a bit complex on the taste profile.

A few weeks ago I decided to try my luck at mac & cheese with him again. This time I went the simple route, not boxed mac & cheese, but the next best thing  . . . Béchamel Sauce.  So I feel totally crazy admitting this, but I have never really made a Béchamel sauce. I am not sure how I have been cooking this long and gotten away with it, but I have.

I can now safely say I will never be scared of Béchamel sauce again.  Not only was it super delicious, but it was also amazingly easy to make and a huge crowd pleaser with the little guy.  I scored a clean plate plus an ask for seconds.  If only figuring out how to find that perfect life balance was this easy.

Bechamel Sauce with Cheese

Makes half a cup

1 tablespoon of butter

1 tablespoon of flour

5/8 cup of milk, heated in a separate saucepan over low heat until small bubbles form at the edge

Salt

Freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup of cheddar cheese

Pinch of Cayenne Pepper

 

Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed sauce pan over medium heat.

Stir in the flour and cook, stir constantly, until the paste begins to bubble a bit – about 2 minutes.  Be careful not to let it brown.

Add in the hot milk and continue to stir, bringing the sauce to a boil.

Add the cheese, cayenne pepper as well as season with salt and pepper to taste.  Lower the heat and continue to cook, stirring constantly for 2 to 3 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in your choice of pasta, I prefer elbow noodles for my Mac & Cheese.

Adapted from Epicurious.

 

 

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