A lot of us grew up eating Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. While I have nothing personal against it, I found the most wonderful macaroni and cheese at Harold's New York Deli & Restaurant here in New Jersey. It's perfectly creamy and cheesey and really hits the right "spot" whenever we manage to get over there for a dinner of appetizers. A little background on the restaurant for those not familiar... it's known for the over-sized portions. If you order a sandwich off of the menu, plan to share with at least 2-3 other people (possibly more if you aren't completely starved when you walk in the door). We have started just ordering an assortment of appetizers when we go since each one is served on a dinner sized plate. Favorites are the macaroni and cheese, fried clams, potato knish and the potato latke just to name a few.
In an effort to find a recipe that recreates that creamy macaroni and cheese, I went searching in Rachael Ray's 30 Minute Meals 2. Her recipe for Cheddar Cheese and Macaroni looked like it had a lot of potential when I read through the ingredients and the directions. She begins with a basic roux of butter, oil and flour. Simple enough and the addition of milk and then the cheese until it was nice and smooth produced the right amount of creaminess. After mixing in the cooked macaroni with the cheese sauce, you put it in the oven to brown under the broiler for a minute or so. My husband prefers his mac & cheese crunchy and well-browned, so I would put it in for longer next time.
While the recipe was nice and easy, I think it still needs something. Perhaps a combination of a couple different cheeses would bring the flavor that just seemed a bit off from what I was expecting. My Youngest was thrilled with it, he is truly a mac & cheese lover and said this got a thumb's up. My Oldest was not impressed, but then he's not crazy about the mac & cheese in the box to begin with so I wasn't expecting him to fall in love with it anyway. I would make this again, but probably modify it a bit to see if I can reproduce the one we enjoy at Harold's.
On Friday, head on over to see what other Rachael Ray recipes have been reviewed this week at Everything Rachael Ray.