It has been said that Thomas Jefferson first served Macaroni and Cheese at the President’s House in 1802. Although we don’t have proof that this is true, we do know that a recipe for macaroni and cheese is included in Mary Randolph’s popular 1824 cookbook, The Virginia Housewife.
Of course, the dish that Jefferson ate is nothing like the boxed version we are familiar with today. Using pasta and parmesan cheese imported from Italy, Jefferson’s chefs cooked the macaroni until soft, then coated it with butter and added cheese. The mixture was then placed in a casserole dish, dotted with more butter and cheese, and baked until it was slightly brown with some crustiness on top.
This quick and easy recipe, taken from The Virginia Housewife, has been adapted for modern cooks.
Butter, for greasing dish
16 ounces large elbow macaroni
3 cups milk
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups (packed) freshly shredded Parmesan
2 cups (packed) grated mozzarella
2 cups (packed) Romano cheese
2 tablespoons butter
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Butter a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish and set aside. In a large pot of boiling water, cook the noodles until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Drain, but do not rinse.
In a large bowl, whisk the milk, flour, salt and pepper until blended. Stir in 1 ½ cup Parmesan, 1 ½ cup mozzarella and 1 ½ cup Romano cheese. Add the noodles and butter and toss to coat.
Transfer the noodle mixture to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan, mozzarella and Romano cheese over the noodle mixture. Bake until the cheese begins to lightly brown on top, about 12-14 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Season with salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!
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