i mean hello. this is obviously what you make when your cat wakes you up at 7:23 on a saturday morning. please.
paprika, mustard, and cayenne are the stars here, but it will take some playing around to decide how much is right for your taste.
1 box pasta
1 large egg whisked
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk (ok i never have whole milk so i always end up using 1% with a splash of heavy cream)
2 1/2 heaping tspns ground mustard
1 lb cheese, grated (this is the fun part. i am quite a cheese buyer and this is an excellent way to get rid of halves and ends. i usually start with a base of nice sharp cheddar and throw in whatever else: gouda, gruyere, monterey jack, manchego, parmigiano reggiano… i used to use a little gorgonzola, roquefort, or blue, but b pointed out that they sort of overpower the other cheeses)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
pinch of cayenne
2 pinches of paprika
in a large pot, boil the pasta until very al dente. drain and leave in colander. in the same pot (that’s now empty), melt the butter and whisk in the flour. cook it for 3 minutes (or 5- i have a very hardworking stove), whisking constantly to avoid burning. this part smells good. pour in the milk and mustard, whisk until smooth, and then leave it alone for a few more minutes (3 or 4) while it thickens up.
with the beaten egg in a small bowl, take a spoonful of your roux from the pot and whisk it in to the egg. once that little bit is incorporated, add a little more and whisk again. keep doing this until you’ve whisked in about 1/4-1/2 a cup. this is so the egg won’t scramble, jic you were wondering…
now throw in most of your cheese and stir to melt. add salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne. (do as i say, not as i do, and) add a little at a time, tasting the sauce as you go. when it’s perfect, stir in the pasta. transfer to a buttered baking dish and cook for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees. if you’re using mason jars like i did, you might want to skip the preheat and put them in the oven as it heats up. the internets told me this probably isn’t necessary, but i did it just in case. no glass explosions here.
recipe adapted from pioneer woman. she is amazing at all things deliciously american. and here’s what to use when you’re feeling really fancy.