Savory noodle kugel is the best mac and cheese EVER
My sister says it's "like a noodle kugel, only not sweet." She's right. This savory noodle kugel is the best version of mac and cheese I have ever made. And I have made a lot of versions. I have been on this quest for many years. And I have arrived.
With my sister's encouragement, I went back to my mama's mac and cheese, only I, again at my sister's encouragement, made a few key changes. This is a case where I have determined that more is definitely more. I added more cheese. More kinds of cheese. I added more butter, more eggs and a little more milk. It worked.
You see, my mom's mac and cheese does not rely on any kind of white sauce. It is, simply put, a savory noodle kugel. I quit making it for years because I thought I liked the more creamy "restaurant-style" mac and cheese better, and my husband never seemed to get used to the custard-y version I'd grown up with. But my sister came to town when the baby was born and she whipped up mac and cheese one night and righted all my wrongs. She said it was a case of needing more eggy custard to keep it from getting dry. She was totally right.
I went a step further and added big hunks of smoked Gouda. This was the crowning glory. It's a fast, easy and impressive dish. It's beautiful and rich and soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside, much like myself.
Smoky, Savory Noodle Kugel (Mama's Mac and Cheese Plus)
1 lb elbow macaroni
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar
4 oz. smoked Gouda
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and bring your water to a boil.
In a medium bowl, whisk together three eggs, the milk, and a dash of salt and pepper.
Boil your noodles to al dente. Don't overcook them.
While they cook, prepare a smallish (maybe 9 x 11) casserole dish by spreading with butter or cooking spray.
Cut your Gouda into 1/2 inch cubes and grate your cheddar. I like this varied approach to the cheese. The cheddar is "everywhere" while the Gouda is in luscious pockets — little surprises of creamy flavor. Cut your butter into smallish cubes as well.
Dump the drained pasta into the casserole and then dot with the butter, Gouda and cheddar. Add a dash of salt and pepper and give it all a stir so it's evenly distributed. Then pour the egg/milk mixture over and bake for 20 minutes. That's it!
I served this with some chicken I'd baked in a spicy marinade. I think, for some reason, that mac and cheese is always well-accompanied by something with some kick.
4 boneless chicken breasts
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup Frank's Red Hot
1/4 of a red onion
Small handful of fresh cilantro leaves
Lay the chicken in a smallish casserole, give a light coating of salt and pepper.
In a food processor, blend together the mayo, Frank's, onion and cilantro. Pour the mixture over the chicken and marinate for 20 minutes to an hour. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees (with your mac and cheese — perfect timing).
Go ahead and make a salad or some beans — your plate is gonna be pretty orange so a green vegetable might be in order.