Who doesn’t love Mac and Cheese? It’s an American institution that is probably as popular as Mom, Baseball and Apple Pie! Just think about it. Tender elbow macaroni noodles dripping with creamy, delicious cheese sauce. Who can say no to that? It’s great as a side dish or just by itself. You can hook it up and add all kinds of stuff to it to make different tastes and flavors (like hot dogs and pork and beans as we did in the Boy Scouts) or just eat it as is. Mac and Cheese, the wonder food!
The origin of macaroni and cheese is unknown, though most believe it hails from Northern Europe, with the earliest known recorded recipe being scribbled down in 1769. Like I said, it has become a staple of American cuisine. The creamy combo made its way to the United States courtesy of Thomas Jefferson who became enamored of the fashionable pasta dishes he was being served while visiting France. Since this foodstuff was unavailable in the Colonies he brought back noodle recipes and a pasta machine. As president, he served macaroni and cheese at an 1802 state dinner.
When I first came to South Carolina, one of my first eating experiences was at ‘Southern Fried Green Tomatoes’. This is a typical southern ‘Meat and Three‘ restaurant meaning you get a choice between a selection of meats like fried chicken, meat loaf, turkey etc. and then three vegetable choices for your meal. While perusing the vegetable list for my choices imagine my bewilderment when I see Macaroni and Cheese listed under the vegetables. I was a little more than confused and I questioned the person I was with at the time. I asked, “Ummm, since when is macaroni and cheese a vegetable?” They looked at me just as bewildered that I would even ask such a question.
As I have learned, macaroni and cheese is its own food group in the south. It is eaten with any meal anytime. It is a main course, a side dish and a vegetable all in one. A meal in the South without macaroni and cheese is like peanut butter without the jelly or if you’re in the South, bananas. That’s a whole other blog. Oh, by the way, if the mac and cheese comes from a box that’s tantamount to blasphemy. If it ain’t homemade, then it ain’t mac and cheese!
Suffice to say, even though mac and cheese is a favorite food of mine I have grown to like it even more. This is probably due to the fact that you rarely have a meal without it. I remember summer time lunches always consisted of a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich and some Kraft Mac and Cheese. Don’t tell my wife I like mac and cheese from a box! She is southern, after all.
With that said, here’s a nice mac and cheese recipe for the slow cooker or crockpot as we country folk call it. Enjoy!
In a 4-quart crockpot sprayed with cooking spray, mix the macaroni, evaporated milk, milk, butter, salt, pepper, eggs and all but 1/2 cup of the grated cheese.
Sprinkle the reserved cheese over the top of the mixture and then sprinkle with paprika. Cover and cook on low heat for 3 hours and 15 minutes. Turn off the crockpot, stir the mixture and serve hot.
Note: If you don’t have a crockpot, grease a 9-by-13-by-2-inch pan with butter, add the mixture and bake at 350° F for 50 minutes.