Part of working at Home Depot is that during Power Hours, an associate has to stand at each entrance and greet incoming customers and make them feel welcome. And hand them fliers regarding our latest sales. Some associates hate the work, some take it super seriously, and some try to have fun with it. An hour spent standing there is an hour wasted/not working/doing something different.
During the wintertime, everyone hates the work. Every time the door opens, a new blast of cold, freezing air comes in. The gigantic heater hanging over the door only comes on intermittently. So basically, it’s an hour spent in the freezing air. I get through the hour by practicing the Basic Step for lindy hopping. I’m becoming well-known around the store for that. On Sunday I had to greet instead of go on my scheduled lunch. I promised myself that I would make macaroni and cheese for dinner if I just didn’t die during my hour of greeting.
The macaroni and cheese that I made was based on a Betty Crocker recipe, but because I am not the greatest cook ever, the recipe ended up being modified quite a bit. Also, my family wanted mac and cheese too, so I had to double the recipe.
Here is my modified mac and cheese recipe, as we ended up making it:
Kelsey’s Four-cheese Mac and Cheese
4 cups uncooked elbow macaroni (7 ounces)
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
4 cups milk
2 1/2 cups mystery cheese (shredded)
1 1/2 cups pepper jack
3 oz ricotta
1 cup gouda (shredded)
(we were out of ground mustard, but if you have ground mustard, I would recommend 1/2 teaspoon of that as well)
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Your father will grumble that that’s not hot enough, but your mother will assure him that’s a perfectly normal recipe to bake a casserole at.
Dump the whole box of pasta into the pot. Seriously. 4 cups is a whole box of that fancy rotini your mom got. Boil that sucker.
While all that’s going on, complete mise en place. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl (flour, salt, pepper, mustard if you got it). Shred the cheese. I would really recommend shredding the cheese yourself. There’s nasty chemicals in pre-shredded cheese to keep it from congealing. Pour your four gallons of milk. Seriously, you need to be able to toss that altogether all at once. You won’t have time to measure later.
Melt the butter. When that’s done, toss all your dry ingredients into the butter and quickly measure out the worchestershire sauce. Drop the dry ingredients bowl into the pan. Burn your hand getting it out. Drop the bowl onto the stove, sending flourbutter everywhere. Curse everything. Stir until it’s all smooth. When it starts bubbling, take it off the stove. Stir in the milk. You could do like me here and only pour in half the milk, but I wouldn’t really recommend that.
Stir in the milk until everything is all smooth again. Put it back over the stove and stir some more until it’s boiling. Let it boil (while stirring) for a minute (or two, if you’re my mother, it doesn’t really matter). Stir in the mystery cheese and the pepper jack. Stir until smooth again.
Realize your creation is coming out a bit more solid than you would prefer. Realize there’s a second measuring cup of milk sitting out. Panic. Pour the milk into the pan.
Your mother comes in and asks if she can help. Tell her that everything is fine, just fine. Weakly stir the milk because there’s so much milk you’re afraid stirring too strongly will cause a spill. Your mother will take out a casserole pot and tell you to pour everything in there. Miraculously, nothing spills. Your mother will take over stirring while you clean up the mess with the bowl and the flourbutter.
Taste results of your mother’s stirring and declare it to be too milky.
Add the ricotta cheese. Stir until smooth.
Drain the pasta and pour it into an appropriately-sized casserole dish. Pour the cheese sauce (roux) onto the pasta, and stir until all the pastas have roughly the same amount of cheese on them. Sprinkle the gouda on top of the casserole generously.
Bake for twenty to twenty-five minutes. Allow to cool for five minutes, and then serve with an optional side of bacon because just because your parents gave up red meat for Lent doesn’t mean everyone has to suffer.
Next time use gouda instead of mystery cheese.