Macaroni and Cheese with Broccoli and Ham

September 13, 2013

As our son worked his way through more and more types of solid foods, macaroni and cheese was inevitable.  It is a pretty simple dish to prepare, after all.  The big stumbling block for me was the whole notion of cheese coming in powder form.  That's not really cheese.  Not that I didn't eat a fair amount of the stuff from the iconic blue and yellow box growing up, but I wanted to make a more authentic mac-and-cheese for him....and work in some more wholesome elements.


There were a couple of things I wanted to make sure were incorporated in the final product, in addition to having a crunchy top and a gooey center.

One is ham.  The boy loves ham.  That thick cut, ham-off-the-bone, meaty kind of ham.

The other item I wanted to get in here is a vegetable.  Even though he's a big fan of both broccoli and peas at this point, the combination of broccoli and cheddar is always a winner.

After some researching numerous recipes, I thought the Best Macaroni & Cheese Ever from Karen at Kitchen Treaty was the closest to what I wanted to make - and it really matched my style.  The foundation is a classic white sauce, made with a roux and milk.  Adding cheese turns this into a mornay sauce.  This thickened, cheesy sauce will firm up even more in the oven.  The breadcrumbs and cheese on the top will brown and crisp...making for a fantastic texture that can never be achieved by a boxed product alone.

This has turned out to be a really great base recipe that I've adapted and made on a week-by-week basis.  It also easily filled up a regulation sized casserole dish, providing several days of tasty lunches and dinners for all in the house.

One thing you'll notice is that it seems to use a ridiculous amount of cheddar cheese.  Though considering how many servings this dish will make (each piece is pretty dense), the cheese is pretty well distributed.  Enjoy!

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Macaroni and Cheese with Broccoli and Ham
A delicious, kid friendly Mac and Cheese - and not from a box
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 10 servings
Ingredients
  • 6 ounces Dry Pasta
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1/4 cup Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • Dash Paprika
  • 2 1/2 Cups Milk
  • 3 Cups Cheddar Cheese, Shredded
  • 2 Ounces Cooked Broccoli
  • 3 Ounces Chopped Ham
  • 2 Cups Breadcrumbs
Instructions
  1. Cook and rinse the noodles (optionally butter or toss in olive oil). Spread them out in a 2 Quart baking dish
  2. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium low heat.  Allow most of the bubbles to clear.
  3. Gradually add in the flour, incorporating with a wooden spoon, until all of the flour has been mixed in. Let this roux cook gently for about 3 minutes
  4. Mix in the mustard, a bit of salt and pepper for seasoning and the dash of paprika. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool for several minutes
  5. Pour in about half a cup of the milk and use a whisk to mix it in. You're doing this off the heat to prevent curdling and scorching
  6. Return the pan to medium heat and slowly whisk in the rest of the milk. If you rush this part, you'll have a lumpy sauce. Give the sauce about 10 minutes over a low simmer, continuing to gently stir, to thicken.
  7. Remove again from the heat and add 2 cups of the cheese in small handfuls, whisking to integrate
  8. Pour the cheese sauce over your noodles. Mix in the ham and broccoli. Top with the remaining cheese and the breadcrumbs
  9. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  Give it a few minutes under the broiler to ensure a complete browning of the breadcrumbs.



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