A cheesy, creamy pasta that has become a French, English and American classic, utilizing a classic French white sauce and gruyere, to form a simple yet tasty dish that transcends generations and cultures.
While most Americans grew up believing Macaroni and Cheese was invented by Kraft Foods, the rest of the World is familiar with its English and French origins. While pasta with cheese is recorded during Medieval times, It isn’t until 1770 that a French white sauce is used in Elizabeth Raffald’s book, The Experienced English Housekeeper. This modern version is what we are familiar with today, Pasta, cheese and Béchamel sauce.
This recipe is inspired by Eugenie Braziers Gratin de Macaronis. Miss Brazier is considered the mother of modern French cooking, the first woman to earn 3 Michelin stars and the first French citizen to earn 6 Michelin stars. Her restaurant, La Mere Brazier, still stands on 12 rue Royale, Lyon, France, since 1921.
Her dish Gratin de Macaronis was possibly the most popular dish by regulars. This simple dish was even ordered during important business meetings between clients. Sometimes it is the most simple dishes that pull at our gastronomical heart strings the most. The creaminess of the Béchamel sauce, the cheese and the bite of the macaroni, all lend to a perfectly simple, yet tasty dish that transcends generations. Something both children and parents can enjoy around the dinner table.
A bechamel sauce has origins in Renaissance Italy but was adapted as one of the 5 mother sauces in French cuisine. Equal parts of butter and flour is cooked over low-medium heat while being stirred with a whisk. Since bechamel sauce is a white sauce, care should be taken to not let the ‘roux’ turn brown as you would for a brown gravy or as done in Creole cooking. Hot milk is then added slowly while stirring. Heating the mixture up to boiling and then cooking for one more minutes yields a nice, thick sauce for whatever dish you are making.
Today we are going to season with just salt and pepper. The blend of gruyere and smoked gouda rounds off this dish with a beautiful, cheesey essence.
Embrace your inner French self and make this winning dish for your family, they will be so lucky if you do. Hopefully they will realize it didn’t come from a box.
A French classic inspired by Eugenie Brazier, the mother of French cooking.
- 1 lb macaroni
- 4 oz gruyere, shredded
- 4 oz smoked gouda, shredded
- 3 Tbs butter
- 3 Tbs all purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk or 1 cup milk + 1 cup cream, heated
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400F
- Cook macaroni according to package directions, rinse, drain, set aside, you may use fresh or dried.
- Make a white roux by heating butter in a small sauce pan over low-medium heat, then whisk in flour slowly, whisking to prevent clumps from forming. The mixture should bubble a little and keep whisking until it turns a golden yellow, avoid browning.
- Whisk in hot milk slowly, add salt and pepper. Stir with whisk until it starts boiling, cook for one more minute. Turn off heat, add half of the cheese, stir and set aside.
- In a 9X12 casserole dish, layer the ingredients in order. First macaroni, then sauce, then the remaining cheese.
- Bake in oven for about15 minutes until hot and bubbly, if the top hasn't browned yet, place under broiler for 3-5 minutes until you see brown spots on top.