This recipe came to my attention via Smitten Kitchen. Eric and I throw a BBQ in the middle of winter every year and, in need of a little help, we went over to SK for some suggestions while planning last year’s menu. I found not just one, but three recipes from Deb’s catalog that were perfect for the occasion. But the hit of the evening was this “Easiest Baked Mac-and-Cheese.”
But, really, how can you go wrong when you are following a 2:1 cheese-to-pasta ratio (not to mention the addition of cottage cheese, milk, and butter)? This is comfort food to the nth degree… just what you want to make and consume on a brutal, blizzardy day. No doubt about it, THIS will put a big grin on your face.
Easiest Baked Macaroni and Cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup cottage cheese (not low fat)
2 cups milk (not skim)
1 teaspoon dry mustard
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound sharp or extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated (I’m a big fan of Cabot extra-sharp, in the purple wrapper)
1/2 pound elbow pasta, uncooked.
1. Heat oven to 375°F and position an oven rack in upper third of oven. Use one tablespoon butter to grease a 9-inch round or square baking pan.
2. In a blender, purée cottage cheese, milk, mustard, cayenne, nutmeg and salt and pepper together.* Reserve 1/4 cup grated cheese for topping. In a large bowl, combine remaining grated cheese, milk mixture and uncooked pasta. Pour into prepared pan, cover tightly with foil and bake 30 minutes.
3. Uncover pan, stir gently, sprinkle with reserved cheese and dot with remaining tablespoon butter. Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes more, until browned.
4. Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.