Friday, April 15, 2011

Mac and Cheese a la The Pioneer Woman

I guess I waited until the last crow was cooked to decide what I would make for the Celebrity Cook-Along hosted by Lynn at Happier Than A Pig In Mud.  As I thumbed through The Pioneer Woman Cooks I saw quite a few recipes that I thought the Kitchen Gnome might enjoy.  I know that I will have to go back and try the chicken fried steak....but for today, it is something down-home simple and a classic:  Macaroni and Cheese.

Everybody has a recipe for mac and cheese...the first time I had to prepare dinner for my dad I made mom's mac and cheese.  (Mom had to work the 4:00 to midnight shift which left me, a high schooler, making dinner!  Poor Dad...looking back, he was such a good sport.)  Mom's recipe didn't include making a roux...I just layered the mac, the cheese, poured on a beaten egg and some evaporated milk....that was it.

Ree's recipe is pretty basic, no fancy cheeses, just down-home good!  The Kitchen Gnome told me it was the best I had much for those times when I tried to fancy up a basic dish that we all have a memory lock on!  I did step just a bit out of the basic box...I looked at the variations....bacon was listed.  I figured everything tastes great with bacon added so that is what I did.  I also cut the amount of pasta in half.  It just seemed like a lot as written.

Pioneer Woman's Mac and Cheese

4 cups dried macaroni  (I cut this in half for the two of us...)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 4 tablespoons) butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk (I cut this down to 2 cups.)
2 heaping teaspoons dry mustard (more if desired)
1 egg, beaten
1 pound cheese, grated (I used about 2/3 pound)
1/2 teaspoon salt (more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt (more to taste)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Optional spices: cayenne pepper, paprika, thyme
Optional Additions:  caramelized onions, bacon, ham, tomatoes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
If you plan to bake it, cook macaroni until very firm. Macaroni should be too firm to eat right out of the pot. Drain. (If you do NOT plan to bake, cook a bit longer.)
In a small bowl, beat egg.

In a large pot, melt butter and sprinkle in flour. Whisk together over medium-low heat. Cook mixture for five minutes, whisking constantly. Don’t let it burn.
Pour in milk, add mustard, and whisk until smooth. Cook for five minutes until very thick. Reduce heat to low.

Take 1/4 cup of the sauce and slowly pour it into beaten egg, whisking constantly to avoid cooking eggs. Whisk together till smooth.

Pour egg mixture into sauce, whisking constantly. Stir until smooth.
Add in cheese and stir to melt.
Add salts and pepper. Taste sauce and add more salt and seasoned salt as needed! DO NOT UNDERSALT.

Pour in drained, cooked macaroni and stir to combine.

Serve immediately (very creamy) or pour into a buttered baking dish, top with extra cheese, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly and golden on top.


I can hardly wait to have some of the leftovers for lunch!

Linking up to Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday and to Mangoes and Chutney for Fat Camp Friday.


  1. I wish I had some of your leftover for MY lunch! :o) You can't go wrong with mac and cheese and everything is better with bacon. Yum!

  2. I love mac and cheese and have to agree... everything's better with bacon:@) I've never added an egg to it before, so that's different, and I love a little cayenne in it! Thanks so much for linking up Kate!

  3. I have to give this a try, my family loves mac n cheese, and I haven't found that recipe that I haven't screwed up yet! This look fantastic.

  4. Comfort food at its best...sounds delicious!

  5. I've never added dry mustard to mine...must try that. I do like a variety of cheeses and a little bread crumb topping.

  6. My mac n'cheese has only been the dreaded 'blue box'! Maybe a homemade version would mke me appreciate the dish!!

  7. It is so funny that the kitchen gnome thought this was the best mac and cheese, without all the fanciness of some recipes! It does sound good and easy too, so I'll add it to my list. Linda

  8. That looks very doable and thanks for doing the math for me. Great pictures.

  9. I made this a couple times and each time, it was great. Don't we love this woman!! :))

  10. Love, love, love mac n cheese. I will be giving this one a try.

  11. This looks super cheesy and delicious! It's the best comfort meal.

  12. This looks awesome! I love Mac and Cheese and yours looks super creamy and cheese :D)!

  13. Macaroni and cheese is my ultimate comfort food!!!!!

  14. The only thing I don't add is the egg. My little gkids still won't eat it, they like the junk in the blue box@
    It looks delicious, Kate!

  15. of course bacon is the perfect add-in for some down-home mac and cheese! perfect, kate--well done. :)

  16. Hi Kate!

    Its been a long time since I've stopped by to visit you! I bet my sweet Caroline would ♥ your mac & cheese version. That is her current favorite food. LOL
    Thanks for posting about it!

  17. Wow, looks super delicious! I guess bacon does make everything extra delicious! Love the cheesy colour too!

  18. That looks cheesey good! One of my favorite side dishes of all time...mac & cheese!

  19. Mmmm. It looks comforting and delicious.

  20. That sounds like a perfect dish of comfort.

  21. You know I didn't eat macaroni and cheese as a child. Not sure why my mother never served it. But as an adult I've learned I really missed something. The cheesier the better for me.

  22. Oh, my. This looks wonderful--and I've just scored some gluten-free macaroni. Now what can I make for dinner? Ha! Thanks for posting this.


  23. Thanks for linking this up to Fat Camp Friday! Love the simplicity and I would love for you to share it with my "Mac and Cheese Quest"!

  24. I made this today with a combination of manchego, fontina, Irish dubliner, white chedder, and Gouda because it was left over from a cheese platter we made. It was absoutly wonderful!! Some of the family even added left over ham. Thanks for the great find!! Xoxo

  25. I made this today with a combination of manchego, fontina, Irish dubliner, white chedder, and Gouda because it was left over from a cheese platter we made. It was absoutly wonderful!! Some of the family even added left over ham. Thanks for the great find!! Xoxo