Life is hard. Whether it’s the day to day grind or some difficulty we’re facing in our lives, sometimes we crave a little comfort. And, of course, that’s why “comfort food” is so beloved by almost everyone. The ultimate comfort food has to be macaroni and cheese. We found this macaroni and cheese recipe in James Beard’s pasta book early on in our marriage and it was an instant favorite. I changed it up a bit over the years to make it a little less rich and fattening. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still not a light meal—but then, who expects comfort food to be light? We used to make this with a type of pasta called “cavatelli” that we could easily find at our local grocery store and thus the name “Cavi Cheese” came into being. Alas, I can no longer find cavatelli and usually use rotini or rotelli instead. When the recipe tells you to not skimp on the Tabasco, don’t. Add a lot and it still won’t be too spicy. It’s also great served with green Tabasco sauce. Enjoy our family’s favorite meal!
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2½ cups milk
Dash of freshly ground pepper
½ teaspoon Tabasco, or more to taste
¾ pound macaroni elbows or rotini
¾ pound Cheddar cheese, grated
Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add the flour, and stir it with a wooden spoon or spatula for around
3 minutes, until the roux is frothy and the taste of raw flour is gone. Meanwhile, heat the milk in another pan. Add the warm milk gradually to the roux, stirring hard all the while. Turn up the heat and cook, stirring, until the sauce is just at the boiling point. Turn down the heat and let it simmer for a few minutes. Now add the pepper and Tabasco. Don’t be afraid of the Tabasco: it will help bring out the taste of the cheese.
Cook and drain the pasta.
Mix three-quarters of the grated cheese into the simmering sauce. As soon as it melts, combine it with the drained pasta, and pour it into a baking pan. Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese, and bake for 20 to 30 minutes in a 350°F oven. Serves 4 to 6