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read, eat, cook: The Five Stages of Macaroni and Cheese

February 11, 2011

My Own Macaroni Pie on my mom's serving spoon, photo by Denise Duguay

Some people measure their lives in relationships. Or pets. I prefer the ethereal pairing of pasta and cheddar.

1966: Noodles and butter and salt.

1968: Mother’s Macaroni and Tomatoes and Cheese (the secret’s in the green onions; use a whole bunch)

1988: The Velveeta Variation (brief dalliance with a guy who made good use of Velveeta and green peppers with noodles, tomatoes and cheese)

1997: Traditional Mac and Cheese (noodles with a couple of handfuls of cooked pasta and shredded cheese tossed into a butter-flour-milk roux)

2011: Macaroni Pie

I was led to the mecca of Macaroni Pie by Amanda Cohen, the chef/owner of NYC eater Dirty Candy. Esquire magazine fixed us up in a feature called How to Feed a Man Quickly, in the September 2010 edition dedicated to Eat Like a Man. She cadged the recipe from her husband’s southern family. And now I’ve cadged it from her, with a little something-something of my own.

Chili powder, black pepper, mustard powder. Photo by Denise Duguay

My Own Macaroni Pie

  1. Two or three handfuls of elbow pasta (that’s macaroni to you), boiled to within an inch of its life
  2. An egg of  butter* melted in a casserole dish placed in the oven, set to 350.
  3. 1/2 tsp each mustard powder, chili powder, freshly ground black pepper mixed into the melted butter in the casserole.
  4. Add the cooked pasta to the butter and seasoning with as much shredded cheese as you can fit on your counter, setting aside a bunch for the top.
  5. 1/2 to 1 cup of milk poured in (or just until you can see the milk through the noodles. Stir lazily once or twice.
  6. Top with remaining cheese.
  7. Bake for a half hour if you’re starving, longer for a firmer, crispier Pie.

Save some for leftovers. My pal Amanda says her husband makes a huge pile of it at least once a month and they slice it cold from the fridge, scarfing it with hot sauce or “if we’re feeling sophisticated, we reheat it.”

* I thank Susan Schwartz for playing editor to my writer and correcting my mistype above: it’s an egg of butter, of course, and not pasta, as I drunkenly (if only i had that excuse) wrote in the original. The Gazette, I mean, the Duguay regrets the error. Thank you ss.

Denise Duguay

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