Could this be the best Mac and Cheese recipe? Thomas Jefferson thought so.
When we think of comfort food, one dish that first comes to mind is mac and cheese. We find mac and cheese served at our local church outing, the backyard barbecue, even at upscale restaurants.
How did this favorite food come about? Recipes for early versions have been found in a variety of cookbooks dating as far back as the 14th century. Pasta and cheese casseroles first gained popularity in Europe, especially France, England, and Italy. A recipe for macaroni and cheese appeared in a 1769 cookbook called The Experienced English Housewife.
The love for mac and cheese in America was born when Thomas Jefferson brought the dish to America from Europe Jefferson’s Cookbook on page 20). Jefferson was so enamored with mac and cheese in Europe that he tried to design a macaroni-making machine. While that did not work out as planned, Jefferson imported Parmesan cheese and macaroni noodles from Italy. In 1802 he served macaroni & cheese at a state dinner, and from there the popularity spread throughout the states.
Jefferson’s chef cooked the macaroni until it was soft, then coated it with butter and cheese. If you would like to be a history chef, here is the recipe.
The Jefferson recipe for macaroni and cheese:
Butter, for greasing dish
16 ounces large elbow macaroni
3 cups milk
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper 2 cups freshly shredded Parmesan cheese 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
2 cups Romano cheese
2 tablespoons butter
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Butter a 13- by 9-inch glass baking dish and set aside.
In a large pot of boiling water, cook the noodles until tender (8-10 minutes).
Drain pot; do not rinse.
In a large bowl whisk the milk, flour, salt until blended.
Stir in 1 1/2 cups of the three cheeses.
Add the noodles and butter, and toss to coat.
Transfer to the baking dish.
Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan, mozzarella and Romano cheeses over the noodle mixture. Bake until the cheese turns light brown (12-14 minutes). Let stand