What is better than Mac and Cheese? Very little. And when it has lots of crispy top and sides since it is cooked in a muffin tin (which also helps you control how many portions you eat…and leftover portions are easily frozen) Fugget about it!
The recipe idea came from Ciao Italia. (We have given up cable so rely on PBS for a lot of our programming. An amazing number of good recipes come from this and other shows. Who needs Food Network?)
I added a bit more sharp cheddar cheese (and make sure it is a good sharp cheddar to add to the flavor!) but this is the original recipe from Ciao Italia.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons flour
2 1/2 cups fat free evaporated milk
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons salt
Grinding black pepper
2 cups grated reduced fat cheddar cheese
1/2 pound elbow or other small macaroni
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a medium size sauce pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and stir in the onion. Cook until the onion is very soft but not brown. Sprinkle the flour over the onion and stir to combine the ingredients well. Slowly pour in the milk and stir over medium heat to combine the ingredients. Add the mustard, salt and pepper and continue to stir until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Do not make the sauce too thick. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of the cheese and set the sauce aside off the heat and covered.
Cook the elbow macaroni in 6 cups of boiling salted water just until the macaroni is not hard any longer. Do not overcook the macaroni because it will also be baked.
Drain the macaroni in a colander and transfer it to a large bowl. Pour the sauce over the macaroni to combine well. Use a 1/4 cup measure to scoop and fill the cupcake pan with the macaroni mixture. Be sure to evenly fill the pan right to the rim.
Place the cupcake pan on a larger baking sheet to catch any spills.
Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese evenly over the macaroni and cheese
Bake for 30 minutes or just until the macaroni and cheese is set.
Turn on the broiler and broil the macaroni and cheese just until the tops are crusty brown.
Let the macaroni and cheese cool slightly in the pan before removing them individually with a butter knife. Serve
For variation, add minced carrot or celery to the onions when making the sauce or throw in some peas when mixing the macaroni with the sauce.