Mister, There's Mustard in Your Mustache Madness.
I draw inspiration all over the place.
Like today, I noticed that the staff at Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s cafeteria has brought serious game to March Madness.
Not to be outdone by Free State Brewery’s March Mustard Madness, the LMH kitchen and grill staff have created March Mustache Madness, a sampling of which is shown here, in order of mustachy superiority:
In my own show of Mustardity, I offer you this recipe for March Mustard Mac and Cheese, which you will need to bring with you to your NCAA watching parties, because you will need the carbohydrates to soak up ALL THAT BOOZE.
Start by boiling some pasta. Do the whole bag/box. If you are a traditionalist, you will use elbow macaroni, but last time I used penne tubes and liked it a little better.
While that boils (and you know to salt the bloody hell out of your pasta boiling water, right?), start a white sauce.
Begin by melting a stick of butter in your best saucepan, and then toss in a few tablespoons of flour (probably four or five) and whisking, until you have serious clumping. Stir, stir, stir, and over medium heat, start adding milk, about a cup at a time. Up the heat to medium high, and keep adding milk and stirring until you have added about four cups of milk. You have to have enough sauce to cover all that pasta. If it doesn’t look like enough, add more milk. You want to let it thicken, which means allowing it to come to a boil, just for a minute, and KEEP STIRRING. You don’t want to overheat your white sauce or you’ll scorch your milk. Yuk.
If you have one of these coiled whisks to do your stirring/delumping with, your life will be roses and daisies. I got mine at Weaver's and I've never seen them anywhere else.
Once you have your nice sauce, you can start doctoring it up. My standard additions, which are completely flexible based on ingredients on-hand, are as follows:
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp dry mustard
2 T horseradish mustard
1 T salt
3 C shredded SHARP cheddar
3 slices of torn-up American cheese (which adds a necessary creaminess)
But seriously, if you’ve been to The Cheese Shoppe and have some nice gruyere or smoked gouda around, toss it in. It only makes it better.
I also like to chop up a little white onion and throw about ½ cup in the bottom of my baking dish; those cooked onions add a nice surprise to the occasional bite of mac. Dump the pasta in a baking dish, and pour your sauce over, after salting it to taste. Then bake the whole mess for 25 minutes at 325 or so, uncovered, so it gets all nice and bubbly and a little brown on top. I like the crispy cooked bits of noodle mixed in with the creamy goodness of the rest of the dish. It's like me, crusty on the outside, soft and gooey on the inside.
Some day I’ll show you how my mama makes it, which is completely different from this process, and really my favorite mac and cheese recipe of all time, but it’s not in our mustard-y mustache-y theme, so it will have to wait.
In solidarity with the great men of LMH, I also offer you this, because I am a March Mustache Masochist: