I've been reading a lot about cheese lately, which is an interesting and disgusting but oh-so-delicious topic. Macaroni and cheese, a distinctively American dish, was based on somewhat similar European counterparts but was not made as we know it until the last few centuries. My tried and true recipe relies on sharp cheddar, but when you tread into Irish cheddar territory, it's a whole other ballgame.
I'd been experimenting with my regular recipe -- what pasta shapes work best, what cheese combinations? This one is definitely a winner. A greasy, artery clogging winner guaranteed to be a success at any potluck or family gathering.
1 1/2 cups milk
4 tbsp flour
3 tbsp European style butter
6-8 oz Irish cheddar, cubed
1 lb dry penne rigate
salt to taste
1/2 cup shredded mild cheddar
Preheat the oven to 450 and set a pot of water to boil. In a small saucepan, heat the butter over medium low until melted, and mix with the flour until even. Add half a cup of the milk and mix until even. Once the water boils, add the pasta and cook for about 8-10 minutes. Add the rest of the milk to the sauce mixture and stir until hot; add the cubed cheddar. Stir until melted and add the salt. Set aside to thicken.
Drain the pasta and combine well with the sauce. Put into a baking pan and top with the mild cheddar. Bake for 15 minutes or until the top is bubbly; allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.