Classic Comfort

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Autumn is a time of cooler days and crisp nights. Short days with less daylight is a primer for comfort foods. So for those of us seeking comfort, Mac & Cheese might just be the most popular comfort food on tonight's menu.

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Macaroni and cheese is simple to make, and the secret is to use a mixture of good cheeses.

George’s Classic Jack Mac

Makes 6 servings

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2 Tablespoons Butter

1 onion, chopped

6 cloves garlic, chopped

2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

4 cups chicken broth

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

1 teaspoon hot sauce

pinch fresh grated nutmeg

2 cups half & half

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 cup Jack cheese, shredded

2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

1 1/2 pounds uncooked elbow, shells, or other small pasta

Melt Butter in a large soup pot or saucepan. Add onion, and garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Slowly add the broth, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, add the bay leaves, thyme, hot sauce, and simmer for 10 minutes. 

Stir in the half & half and heat to a simmer. Slowly add the Cheddar, Jack, and Parmesan cheeses, stirring until they melt and the sauce is smooth. Stir in the cooked pasta. Place in a serving dish and eat immediately or sprinkle with Mac Topping (optional), and bake five minutes in a 350 degree oven. 

For the Mac Topping

4 Tablespoons butter, melted

6 Tablespoons bread crumbs

2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Fresh ground pepper, to taste

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

Still Upper Crust

Mac-n-cheese was considered to be upper crust until the end of the nineteenth century. Believe it or not, Thomas Jefferson served mac-n-cheese at a White House dinner in 1802. I am sure his was made from scratch, and not the out-of-the-box version.

I encourage you to make your own. It is very simple and easy to do and can be made ahead. It's one of those dishes that pleases children of all ages. And is a fine dish to put on the menu for numerous occasions; from backyard-BBQ to state dinners at the White House. Just today I encouraged a family member to serve it at their formal wedding, during the reception. It happens to be the bride and grooms favorite one pot dish. Just use fresh ingredients, like good cheese and you can't go wrong. Why not? It was good enough for President Jefferson!

Put your own spin on this one pot dish by adding a variety of ingredients such as:

Vegetables: peas, broccoli, or muchrooms

Meats: prosciutto, smoked baked ham, or pulled pork

Seafood: crab, lobster, or shrimp

For my Mac-N-Cheese Recipe. BTW - this is the one I made on Live with Regis and Kelly

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