Macaroni and Cheese dates back to the 14th century’s. It was first recorded in the Liber de Coquina, one of the oldest medieval cookbooks. America was introduced to Mac & Cheese in the late 1700’s thanks to Thomas Jefferson.
The future American president Thomas Jefferson encountered macaroni both in Paris and in northern Italy. He drew a sketch of the pasta and wrote detailed notes on the extrusion process. In 1793, he commissioned American ambassador to Paris William Short to purchase a machine for making it. Evidently, the machine was not suitable, as Jefferson later imported both macaroni and Parmesan cheese for his use at Monticello. In 1802, Jefferson served “a pie called macaroni” at a state dinner. The menu of the dinner was reported by Reverend Mannasseh Cutler, who apparently was not fond of the cheesy macaroni dish. Nevertheless, since that time, baked macaroni and cheese has remained popular in the United States. Source
Macaroni and Cheese is know to be a classic American dish, but like most recipes they have a lengthy history. Try this recipe out and ask your guests if they know the origins of what they’re eating!
Serves 6-8, or 10-12 as a side.
CLASSIC MACARONI AND CHEESE
Source: America’s Test Kitchen
For the bread crumb topping
6 slices of white sandwich bread, torn into rough pieces
3 tbsp. unsalted cold butter. cut into six pieces
For the pasta and cheese
1 lb. elbow macaroni
1 tbsp. table salt
5 tbsp. unsalted butter
6 tbsp. all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. mustard powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
5 c. milk
8 oz. Monteray Jack cheese (2 cups)
8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese (2 cups)
1 tsp. table salt
For the bread crumbs: Pulse bread and butter in food processor until crumbs are no larger than 1/8 inch, ten to fifteen 1 second pulses. Set aside. Or just use bread crumbs already made, about 1/2 cup or more with butter.
For the pasta and cheese: Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat broiler. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in Dutch oven over high heat. Add macaroni and 1 tbsp. salt; cook until pasta is tender. Drain pasta and set aside in colander.
In now empty Dutch oven, heat butter over medium high heat until foaming. Add flour, mustard, and cayenne and whisk well to combine. Continue whisking until mixture becomes fragrant and deepens in color, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk, bring mixture to boil, whisking contantly (mixture must reach full boil to fully thicken). Reduce heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened to consistency of heavy cream, about 5 minutes. Off heat, whisk in cheese and 1 tsp. salt until cheeses are fully melted. Add pasta and cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly until mixture is steaming and heated through, about 6 minutes.
Transfer mixture to broiler-safe 9×13 inch baking dish and sprinkle evenly with bread crumbs. Broil until crumbs are deep golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes, rotating pan if necessary for even browning. Cool about 5 minutes, then serve.