For some, Macaroni and Cheese is a sacred family recipe, passed down from generation to generation. For others it is a box purchased in the super market with pasta and a pouch of mystery stuff. Try Mrs. Emlen’s “Macaroni au Gratin” and you will never buy the boxed stuff again!
The recipe starts with the rather non-politically correct explanation: From the cock eyed girl of the Café di Europa Naples 1851 - to Geo. W. Chapman
Put 4 pints of water in a sauce pan over a good fire. When it boils put in 3/4 of a pound macaroni (the large size) when sufficiently cooked, take it out, & lay it in a colander where the water will drain entirely off – Then make the sauce – Melt in a saucepan 1/4 of a lb butter, add 2 even tablespoons of flour & stir it for about a minute, then 16 ounces of milk (or 1 pint _1 gill cream) mix all well so as to form a rich cream. Place the macaroni in this sauce, sprinkle with salt, flavor with a little nutmeg add 6 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese, & mix all well together. Then take a copper baking dish grease it well inside with butter & lay in the macaroni; spread in as you lay it in, 1oz of butter, & 3 tablespoons of grated cheese; a little grated biscuit of stale bread will make the crust firmer; Now put on the lid & on it a sufficient fire, to cook the whole through & form a brown crust –
- 1 16 oz bag of pasta (I used penne since that's what I had on hand. I also had no idea what the "the large size" could mean)
- 1/2 c butter
- 2 T flour
- 2 cups milk ( I used whole milk)
- 9 T Parmesan cheese (separated)
- salt to taste
- a few good gratings of fresh nutmeg
- bread crumbs
Cook the pasta as directed and drain. While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a saucepan. When melted completely, sprinkle two tablespoons flour over the butter. Stir everything well – no lumps! Slowly pour the milk in and you can increase your heat to medium. Stir until the sauce becomes thicker, about 5 minutes. Add 6 T Parmesan cheese, salt and nutmeg to the sauce and stir well. Add the cooked pasta. Have prepared a casserole dish. This should be buttered and some extra bread crumbs can be dusted over the butter. Pour the pasta and sauce mixture into the dish. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 3 tablespoons of cheese and breadcrumbs – not too thickly. Place into a 400°F oven for 10 – 15 minutes. Or if you just want to toast the top of the casserole, put it under the broiler for a few minutes.
If you would like to enjoy more of Ellen Emlen’s historic recipes, a copy of her cookbook is available for purchase here.
Join me next week to explore some of the delicious vegetable dishes in the book.