We're dipping down into the 30's at night now, and those chilly nights call for some good, old-fashioned comfort food. This is my mother's Baked Macaroni -- actually, it's my interpretation of it since she never wrote down any recipes. Yes, it's loaded with fat -- a real heart-attack-in-a-bowl --but once in awhile won't hurt, right?
Mom's Baked Macaroni
Preheat oven to 425. Bring large pot of salted water to a boil, and add one pound of Rigatoni -- yeah, that's right, this is stick-to-your-ribs food, not some wimpy Kraft Mac & Cheese! Don't overcook this, it has to be a bit underdone because it continues to cook in the oven.
While the water is boiling and the pasta is cooking, make a bechamel sauce:
Warm 4 cups of evaporated milk on the stove. Melt 5 tbsp. butter and add 1/2 cup flour and whisk until smooth. Gradually add the warm milk, whisk constantly to keep it smooth. Keep doing this till it thickens. Then remove from heat and add a pinch of salt.
Stir in a couple of handfuls of grated cheddar cheese. Probably about 1-2 cups. (I told you this wasn't really a recipe!)
Add the sauce to the pasta, and taste for salt and pepper. Put this into an oiled baking dish -- I usually use one of those disposable tins from the supermarket. Sprinkle the top with a few more handfuls of grated cheddar. I have actually eaten it this way, but it's probably better to bake at 425 for about 20 minutes.
This is great with just a green salad, but I also like to pair it with broccoli for a real stick-to-your-ribs meal. Steam the broccoli in your microwave. While it is cooking, warm a few halved cloves of garlic in some extra virgin olive oil. Don't let the garlic get brown, or it will be bitter. Pour this over your broccoli, and sprinkle with a few raisins. Salt to taste. Trust me, it's delicious!