Today's dinner is a classic comfort food growing up. My Mom made this casserole from scratch and let me tell you, KD's got nothing on this! It's the mixture of a super creamy sauce that while isn't rich in cheese taste, it actually does taste like real cheese and not some chemically, powdery cheese mix. (Although, I confess that with these cravings, some days KD sounds really good!) I created this recipe with a basic recall of what she used to put in it.
To start you'll need to make a Bechamel Sauce. Huh? What? Bechamel is a classic white sauce used in many, many dishes. I modified mine to make sure I got the consistency I needed. Just a note, that a traditional bechamel uses onion or garlic but I've omitted it. If you look up recipes, you'll see what they do with it if you want to add it.
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup of flour
3 cups of milk
3 cups grated cheese (sharp Cheddar, Monterrey jack, Gouda- use one or a mix- play, have fun!)
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 tbsp ground pepper
1/2 tbsp paprika
2 cups dried macaroni (or other shaped pasta), cooked and drained
2 cups diced ham (I use a ham steak and heat it briefly in a pan to cut the final cooking time down)
1- 1 1/2 cups frozen peas
2 cups cubed whole wheat/ grain bread
3 tbsp butter or margarine
Preheat oven to 375 F.
1. Melt butter in a saucepan on medium-low heat. Add flour and whisk constantly. Cook the roux for a few minutes. Add milk and whisk until incorporated. Heat until hot, stirring occasionally. Take off heat.
2. Add cheese and whisk until well mixed. Stir in salt, pepper and paprika.
3. In a large casserole dish put in pasta, peas and ham. Stir in cheese sauce.
4. In a frying pan, melt the last amount of butter. Add cubed bread and stir until well coated.
5. Cover casserole with bread.
6. Bake in oven until bubbly and bread is toasted brown (about 15-20 mins).
Another simple home cooked meal from my home to yours. Enjoy!
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