THE Macaroni & Cheese

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IMG_7741-001NO…not the boxed one most of us grew up with but a down home, comforting casserole of elbow macaroni tossed in a cheese sauce and baked until just golden and crisp on top.

I’ve always loved macaroni and cheese and today I am going to share the my recipe, which also borrows some inspiration from the legendary Horn & Hardart recipe which many Americans tasted at the famous Automats in/around New York City for almost a century.

Most good macaroni & cheeses begin with a roux (butter and flour), warm milk and grated cheese are added into the mix. This cheezy mixture then gets tossed in parboiled pasta and then baked until just golden on top. That’s the basic version.

Now here’s my version: grated onions are added into the mix, some mustard powder, tomato purée, grated aged cheddar cheese and some grated nutmeg. The tomato addition borrows from the Automat macaroni & cheese and I love it as it adds another dimension to the colour and flavour of the dish.

I used some jarred tomato sauce (passata) but you may use what’s to your tastes. This macaroni cheese is my favourite and I hope it becomes yours too!IMG_7735

THE Macaroni & Cheese

(serves 4-6)

2 1/2 cups elbow macaroni

2 Tbsp. butter

2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

1 small onion, grated/minced (about 1/4 cup)

1 Tbsp. mustard powder

1/4 cup tomato puree/sauce

pinch of sugar

2 cups warm milk

salt and pepper

1/4 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg

2 cups grated aged cheddar cheese

breadcrumbs for topping

Pre-heated 400F oven

  1. Place a large pot of water on your stove-top and bring to a boil. Season the water with salt and boil the pasta for 6 minutes. Strain and empty into a deep baking dish/casserole and toss with some butter until well-coated. Reserve.
  2. Place a medium sized pot on your stove-top and over medium heat add the butter and grated/minced onion and stir occasionally as it sweats for five minutes. Now add the flour, mustard powder, tomato puree, sugar and stir for a two minutes.
  3. Now slowly whisk in the warm milk…in 1/2 cup increments…adding milk after each previous 1/2 cup has thickened the sauce. Add a pinch of salt, some ground pepper and grated nutmeg.
  4. Now add your grated cheese in batches and stir in…adding another batch only when the previous has melted into the sauce. Take off the heat and pour into the baking dish with the cooked macaroni and stir well.
  5. Top with bread crumbs and bake on the middle rack for approx. 15 minutes or until top is golden. Remove from the oven, allow to cool 15 minutes before serving.

*Go ahead, add some diced ham, cooked sausage or crisp bacon in the mix before baking.IMG_7745




© 2013,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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8 Comments for “THE Macaroni & Cheese”



WOW! I will have to exercise extreme self control when indulging in this dish! I cannot wait to make it. My favorite part is the bonus of crumb topping nicely toasted and the cheesy creamy macaroni. The tomato puree has me curious. I cannot wait to make it!!!!!!! No.. I cannot wait to eat it!!



Owwww… I love your recipes! My boyfriend& I have many favourites on this website. Had some trouble with this however. Maybe we have a different idea of “small” onion. I used the smallest in my pantry, removed some layers& grated. The sauce tasted so very pungent of the onion! Is there an ideal volume? 1/4 cup onion? 1/8? Or maybe a different type. I used yellow onion as usual. Ahh I almost know how wonderful this would taste if I didn’t destroy it!


Dani, sorry this one didn’t work out for you. I would say 1/4-1/3 of grated onion – which isn’t too much when you consider the amount of macaroni and cheese here. The onion has to cook so that rawness isn’t there or maybe the onion just doesn’t appeal to you. Add less or none next time. Thanks for your feedback.