Specialty 4-Cheese Macaroni And Cheese
- 1 (7 to 8-ounce) package elbow macaroni
- 1/3 cup chopped peeled onion
- 2 tablespoons chopped green pepper (optional)
- 3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted (see note)
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 2 cups milk or reduced-fat or skim milk
- 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
- 2 tablespoons minced pimento, drained (optional)
- Pinch of nutmeg (optional)
- 2 cups (1 (8-ounce) package) shredded Country Casserole-style 4-Cheese Blend or Mexican-style 4-Cheese Blend or Nacho& Taco Cheese Blend, or a combination of shredded sharp Cheddar, American, Monterey Jack, and Muenster or Swiss cheeses, or 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar or American cheese, or 2 cups shredded reduced-fat cheese of choice
- ½ cup bread crumbs mixed with 1 tablespoon melted butter or margarine (optional)
Cook macaroni according to package directions, rinse in cold water, and drain thoroughly. In a medium heavy saucepan, saute’ onion and green pepper, if desired, in butter over moderate heat until just tender but not browned. Blend in flour, salt, and paprika. Stir in milk and mustard, blending well. Reduce heat and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened and bubbly hot. Stir in pimento and nutmeg, if desired. Arrange one-third of the macaroni in the bottom of a greased 1½-quart casserole or baking dish. Top with one-third of the sauce and then one-third of the cheese, spreading evenly. Repeat layers twice more, ending with a layer of cheese. Bake, loosely covered with aluminum foil, in a preheated moderate oven (350 degrees F.) for 25 minutes; remove foil, evenly sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over casserole, if desired, and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes longer, or until casserole is hot and bubbly.
Note: May stir cheese into hot sauce, if desired, blending over low heat until thoroughly mixed; layer sauce with macaroni as previously directed.
Note: To reduce fat content, may reduce butter or margarine to 1½ tablespoons, if desired.
- Add 3 to 4 ounces sliced (or cut into bite-size pieces) Canadian-style bacon or 3 to 4 ounces fully-cooked smoked ham or Smithfield-style ham, cut into bite-size pieces, or 3 to 4 ounces drained sauteed/cooked crumbled pork sausage to layers of sauce and cheese, dividing evenly, if desired.
- Add 2 cored peeled firm ripe medium tomatoes, cut into thin wedges or small pieces, or 1 drained (14 to 16-ounce) can diced tomatoes, to layers of sauce and cheese, dividing evenly, if desired.
- Add 8 ounces partially cooked thinly sliced or coarsely chopped fresh mushrooms or 1 drained (4.5-ounce jar/can (net wt.) sliced mushrooms to macaroni mixture.