Three simple words for a dish with such a complex history, that it has become a classic if not the quintessential American food to grace dinner tables since the Colonial era. But where did it come from? Who “invented” it? And last but not least, how did it become one of the most beloved comfort foods of all time?
While American comfort foods are known for their simple preparations, one dish in particular stands out as endlessly versatile and universally loved: macaroni and cheese. From a backyard barbecue to an upscale restaurant (with a stop at the Thanksgiving table in between), this gooey, cheesy favorite is equally welcomed wherever it finds itself, in whatever iteration it may be.
The exact origin of macaroni and cheese is unknown, though it most likely hails from Northern Europe, with the earliest known recorded recipe being scribbled down in 1769. A staple of American cuisine, the creamy combo made its way to the United States courtesy of Thomas Jefferson who, while visiting France, became enamored of fashionable pasta dishes served there. He brought back noodle recipes and a pasta machine, since this foodstuff was unavailable in the Colonies. As president, he served macaroni and cheese at an 1802 state dinner.
Kraft foods introduced its its boxed macaroni and cheese in 1937, when America was in the throes of the Great Depression. The product could serve four for 19 cents, and the company sold 8 million boxes of its quick-and-easy macaroni and cheese in a year. With rationing in effect during World War II, the boxed mix continued to gain in popularity; staples such as fresh meat and dairy were in short supply. It’s now the standard incarnation of the dish, and along with ramen noodles, the Kraft Dinner (as it’s known in Canada) is a mainstay of college student cuisine
But some chefs are taking back the mac, putting inventive twists on this comfort food classic and making it worthy of fine dining establishments. New additions of bacons of different types, vegetables are all added in this gourmet format. I’ve sticked to the traditional vegetarian one where white sauce and cream are the main ingredients.
I’ve added vegetable stock to enhance the flavor and to cut down the richness of the cream and butter. The addition of rosemary adds on an extra flavor with its distinctive aroma. The final baking gives it an extra crisp nature outside and a creamy smooth inside. A very quick meal which can be made in minutes.
Boil the macaroni according to the packet instructions.
Melt butter in a casserole. Add the flour and roast till aromatic.
Add a quarter of the milk and whisk to combine with out any lumps.
Add rest of the milk and combine.
Place the casserole on medium heat and add the cream amd mix up well.
Pour the stock and combine again. Throw in the pepper powder and mix up.
Pop in the paprika, cayenne and rosemary and incorporate well.
Simmer for a couple of minutes.
Add one cup of gratee cheddar and integrate followed by the macaroni.
Simmer for couple of minutes by adjusting seasoning and parmesan.
Transfer to a baking tray and spread remaining cheddar and bake in oven for 5-7 minutes till crisp and golden in color.