I love the craziness that is planning for Hanukkah, especially the food. Traditionally, fried foods are consumed as part of the commemoration of the Maccabees not having enough oil for the menorah which miraculously burned for eight nights despite the small quantity. Why fried foods you ask? Because it’s fried in oil. Get the connection?
We’ve tried an all-fried or mostly fried menu in the past, and our stomachs lived to regret it. There are, however, many delicious recipes one can make for Hanukkah that aren’t fried. They also probably aren’t traditional, and may raise a few eyebrows, but good eating is part of what it’s all about for us, and Adonai has blessed us richly!
So don’t laugh when I tell you the Gibson household will be dining on my homemade macaroni and cheese for Hanukkah tonight. It’s so rich and cheesy that it’s almost sinful. Fear not, we pray over it before eating to counterbalance that last point.
HL’s Homemade Macaroni & Cheese
1 – 1 lb. box of elbow macaroni
½ c (1 stick) unsalted butter
½ c all-purpose flour
4 c whole milk
3 – 8 oz. blocks of cheese, shredded
Salt and pepper to taste
½ – 1 t dry mustard, optional
Side note: I start with blocks of cheese over pre-shredded because it’s creamier. The pre-shredded stuff always seems dry to me. Also, I suspect the quantity isn’t exactly what the packaging says. You’ll want at least six cups of cheese, however, I’ve found that a little more never hurts which is another reason I prefer blocks of cheese.
When choosing cheeses, I like to include at least one orange cheese to make it look like traditional, American mac-n-cheese. However, an all-white version is just as tasty and visually pleasing.
Consider mild, sharp, or extra sharp orange cheddars, NY white cheddar, mozzarella, Gruyère, Swiss, Monterrey Jack, Colby-Jack, Longhorn, etc. I know some of these are considered to be the same, but I’ve found subtle taste differences that make choosing half the fun.
Preheat your oven to 400°.
Cook the macaroni according to package instructions until al dente. Drain thoroughly as macaroni holds a lot of water in the crook of the elbow. While the macaroni is draining, use the hot pot you cooked it in to melt the butter over a low heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Cook for one minute and do not let it burn.
Slowly add the milk, whisking thoroughly, and cook for another minute over medium heat. Add all but a half cup of the cheese by handfuls, stirring after each addition. Continue cooking until the cheese melts and becomes stringy. Not all the cheese may melt, but this is acceptable.
Add the drained macaroni to the mixture and stir to coat. Carefully pour the mixture into a well-greased 9 x 13 glass baking dish. (Do not panic if it seems soupy. The extra liquid will be absorbed and make the mac-n-cheese creamy.) Top with the last half cup of cheese. Bake at 400° for 25 minutes or until the cheese on the top browns and bubbles. Let it sit for ten minutes before serving.
I’ve chosen all Italian cheeses, added ½ – 1 T of Italian seasoning, grilled chicken, and topped with slices of provolone.
Bread crumbs tossed with parmesan cheese is also a delicious topper.
Uncured turkey bacon, cooked and diced, tastes wonderful stirred in. We use Applegate.