Quick Macaroni and Cheese

I don’t know about you, but I could really use some comfort food right now. Updated, from the recipe archive. Originally posted a gazillion years ago. ~Elise

A few months ago I prepared macaroni and cheese this way for some young friends in a sly attempt to broaden their Mac-Cheese horizons away from Kraft. At first the girls were tentative, but as there was no other lunch apparently forthcoming, they each tried a nibble on one piece of cheese-covered elbow macaroni. Aldie, who can take 30 minutes to eat a slice of apple, wolfed hers down in 2 minutes flat and asked for seconds. The other girls devoured theirs as well.

Ingredients

  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 lb cheddar cheese, grated (about 2 cups, packed)
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/4 cup milk, heated until steamy, but not simmering
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup ham, chopped into 1/4 inch cubes
  • Freshly grated black pepper

Method

1 In a medium sized bowl, mix corn starch into the grated cheese, so that the cheese is coated, set aside. This will help the cheese from getting too stringy.

2 Bring 2 quarts of water with the tablespoon of salt to a boil in thick-bottomed saucepan. Add the elbow macaroni and follow the cooking time instructions on the package, minus about 2 minutes. (If your macaroni doesn't come with instructions, start checking at 7 minutes). Cook until al dente - cooked through, but still slightly firm. Drain the water from the cooking pan.

3 While the macaroni is cooking, prepare the sauce. Melt the butter in a large saucepan on medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Slowly dribble in the milk, while whisking (to avoid clumping) until the sauce is smooth. Slowly add the grated cheese, while whisking, until smooth. Stir in the lemon juice. Add the cooked, drained macaroni and ham. Do not over-mix. Sprinkle in some freshly grated black pepper.

Serve immediately.

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