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Old-Fashioned Baked Macaroni Cheese Comfort

I love to cook and try new foods and recipes. I try to do my best to incorporate healthy foods, but sometimes I need a little comfort food.

Old-fashioned baked macaroni

Old-fashioned baked macaroni

Chewy and Delicious Baked Macaroni and Cheese

This is baked macaroni and cheese, pure and simple—no three kinds of gourmet cheese, no sour cream, and (gasp) no truffle oil.

I have made this recipe over and over again throughout the years, and I love it. Everyone I serve it to loves it, too. It has just the right amount of cheese and bakes up with a nice crust (I do love a nice crust). The buttered bread crumbs on top add just the perfect amount of texture and flavor.

This is basically a Bechamel sauce to which we add cheese. I have always had the most success with either Velveeta or American cheese. I know these are not fancy, and some argue that they aren't even real cheese, but they make a great baked macaroni. Back when I first learned how to make this recipe, the supermarkets were not filled with as a wide an assortment of cheeses as we have today.

You can make this recipe with any shape of pasta you like, but somehow it just doesn't taste right to me unless it's made with elbow macaroni.

Cook timeReady inYields

1 hour

1 hour

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (regular or soy)
  • 4 ounces cheese (Velveeta or American)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup unflavored bread crumbs

Instructions

  1. Cook the elbow macaroni according to package directions and drain.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over very low heat in a medium-size pot. As soon as it is melted, add flour and stir until smooth.
  3. Gradually add milk while stirring constantly. Raise the heat to medium. Keep stirring until mixture starts to thicken. The mixture show be about the consistency of unset pudding. If it's too loose, gradually sprinkle in some more flour. If it's too thick, add a little more milk.
  4. Add the cheese, salt, and tomato paste simmer and stir until the cheese is melted.
  5. Remove from the heat.
  6. Stir the elbow macaroni into the cheese sauce and pour into a greased oven safe dish.
  7. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and stir in the bread crumbs. Sprinkle the buttered bread crumbs around the perimeter of the oven safe dish.
  8. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees on the center shelf of the oven until the top of the macaroni is browned, about 25 minutes.
Delicious and chewy!

Delicious and chewy!

I Learned This Recipe in Home Ec

I learned how to make this recipe in my Home Economics class in junior high school (JHS 127, Bronx, New York). This was back when the boys took Woodworking or Electric Shop and the girls took Home Economics so that we could all be prepared for our (proper) roles in life. For teaching me how to make this baked macaroni, I am grateful. I am not as grateful for the only other Home Ec lesson I remember, which was how to scrub a tile bathroom floor on my hands and knees.

NYC public school uniforms for Home Economics, 1950s

NYC public school uniforms for Home Economics, 1950s

My junior high school was considered to be modern for the time; we were required to wear full aprons, but they could be the aprons of our choice.

If I had stayed in my kindergarten through 8th-grade school, PS 83, I would have been required to wear the apron I was taught to sew, by hand, in 6th grade. It was made of snow-white percale, which we would have been required to keep immaculately clean to show what good housekeepers we would become. We were allowed to pick out bias tape for the edges in whatever color we wanted. I picked kelly green.

But the hat, yes, hat. I'm not sure it was a hat. We made it to match the apron and it wrapped over our hair and tied underneath. It looked somewhat like a cross between a 19th-century nurse's hat or a nun's habit.

Horn & Hardart: The Automat

According to my Home Ec teacher, the above baked macaroni recipe was Horn & Hardart's secret recipe, which she surreptitiously acquired from the staff at their Parkchester (Bronx) take out store. (Their secret was the tomato paste, which no one else added).

Horn & Hardart operated the first automats in Philadelphia and New York City. Basically, they were the precursor to vending machines. You put your coin(s) in and a window would open and you could pull out your food item. People worked behind the glass doors, cooking and refilling the slots.

In December 1990, I ate at the last Horn & Hardart Automat on the corner on 42nd Street in New York. We went there as we knew it was scheduled to close soon, which it did in April 1991. By then, it was more of a cafeteria-style restaurant where you pushed your tray along and received food from servers on the other side.

A few items, like pie, were behind the glass doors. The little doors all had the original nickel slots, so I guess it was impractical to expect people to use as many nickels as it would take for higher-priced items.

© 2012 Ellen Gregory

Let me know you stopped by - Will you be making some baked macaroni?

rockingretro2 on January 16, 2013:

My husband complains that my mac 'n cheese is too "fancy" so I will make this recipe to make him a very happy camper.

oddobjective on November 26, 2012:

I like to try different mac 'n cheese recipes. They are a family favorite.

BelleBanks on November 26, 2012:

Yum. I love homemade mac and cheese.

Mamabyrd from West Texas on November 09, 2012:

I am embarrassed to say that I love Kraft macaroni from a box. I really need to try this recipe. It looks delicious!

Pastor Cher from United States on October 03, 2012:

There are so many great mac and cheese recipes and this is another one to try. Thanks for the recipe. Love it.

cheftimestwo on October 02, 2012:

First time I've seen tomato paste as an addition - can't wait to try it next time!

anonymous on October 02, 2012:

Yummy, the macaroni looks so delicious.

anonymous on October 01, 2012:

As an interesting read, I recommend it to my lenses.

Rose Jones on September 29, 2012:

Such a clever, wonderful, personalized recipe lens. Blessed, sent out by google plus and linked to my own comfort food lens - the chicken pie.

Jack on September 29, 2012:

Looks delicious. I will try it.

ChuckBennett on September 29, 2012:

Now I know what I'm making for dinner tonight.

careerjobcoach on September 29, 2012:

This baked macaroni and cheese looks wonderful.

Ardyn25 on September 28, 2012:

Your recipe looks awesome, I'll have to give it a go sometime. Thanks for posting it! Nothing beats home made mac and cheese.

MikeRobbers LM on September 28, 2012:

I love home made macaroni with cheese & the bread crumb crust .. thanks!

HenkWillemse on September 27, 2012:

I love macaroni and cheese, thanks for the great lens.

bwet on September 26, 2012:

very yummy looking lens. would love to eat them!

justmelucy on September 26, 2012:

Great lens. Made me hungry. It also brought back some good memories in school. I love the bread crumb crust. Is there any other way?

natalier1210 on September 26, 2012:

Awesome........ mac and cheese is my favorite food...... yumyum......yumyum.........yumyumyumyum. I Could go on for ever. :)

JoshK47 on September 26, 2012:

Mmm... mac and cheese is definitely a comfort food of mine. Thanks kindly for sharing this - blessed by a SquidAngel!

queenofduvetcover on September 26, 2012:

oh my, that looks delicious!

thememorybooksh1 on September 26, 2012:

I love macaroni, thanks for the recipe.

MartieG aka 'survivoryea' from Jersey Shore on September 25, 2012:

Love mac & cheese and this recipe sounds great! OMG - Horn & Hardart's - I used to go to one in Washington DC with my grandmother! ~~Blessed~~

Stephanie Tietjen from Albuquerque, New Mexico on September 25, 2012:

Definitely comfort food...looks delicious. Enjoyed this lens.

hntrssthmpsn on September 25, 2012:

I've rarely met a macaroni I didn't like, and this looks like a particularly lovable macaroni. Ah, cheese and carbs, putting all to rights in the world one dinner at a time ;)

SteveKaye on September 25, 2012:

This looks really delicious. Yum.

BarbaraCasey on September 25, 2012:

My recipe is very similar... except for the tomato paste. Thanks for showing the pic of the tomato paste tube, for future reference.

nicolane on September 25, 2012:

It sounds delicious - just the thing for a comfort food - simple and tasty

radhanathswamifan on September 25, 2012:

I love cheesy stuffs..

KimGiancaterino on September 24, 2012:

We were at a restaurant last weekend where they had mac & cheese on the kiddie menu. It looked really good, and I noticed that a lot of adults were ordering it. Can't wait to try your recipe!

ikepius on September 24, 2012:

Just reading this has made my mouth water! I love macarone, but never imagined it with cheese or milk. YUM! I bet it tastes like heaven. And the tomato sauce. My my, I want that. Good work!

the_genteel_reader on September 24, 2012:

Yummy! I will be trying this recipe tonight, if I can wait that long. :-)

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on September 24, 2012:

I did not grow up with baked macaroni so I have no hankering for it. I do it with the grandchildren as they love it. We have not used tomato paste yet.

Rosaquid on September 23, 2012:

I love the tomato paste idea. It would certainly add a savory touch. Thanks for sharing about the Automats. I've noticed them referred to in books. It was great to see the photo. Thanks for the lens and congrats on your well-earned Front Page honors!

anonymous on September 23, 2012:

An old fashioned chewy baked mac and cheese sounds like it should come with a major comfort food alert, I think it should be made in a shallow container to get more of the yummy goodness on top. You surprised me with the tomato paste, that I can imagine adds a nice depth of reasons to want seconds!

JoAnneEvans LM on September 23, 2012:

Old fashioned macaroni and cheese is my absolute favorite comfort food. This is the recipe that my mother passed on to me when I left home, some 25 years ago, except we don't add the tomato paste. The breadcrumbs is an added crunch to the smooth sauce and noodles. Great yummy lens!

Camden1 on September 23, 2012:

I can't wait to try this...I've been looking for a good, old-fashioned macaroni and cheese recipe!

jolou on September 23, 2012:

I love home made macaroni and cheese.

bigjara lm on September 20, 2012:

wow this lens is making me super, super hungry!!