I first heard the name “Clementine Paddleford” last year, as I uploaded old article to the Gourmet Web site. She wrote a column called “Food Flashes” in the 1940’s. Today, they’re great to read because of the history – the country was a very different place back then. You can check them out here.
I didn’t even notice Clementine’s mac and cheese recipe (circa 1951) until I saw a crumpled xeroxed copy laying on my parents’ kitchen counter. My little sister had saved it from this year’s October issue of Gourmet, were it was printed with a feature story about Clementine. I decided to try it.
This is not your typical ooey-gooey mac and cheese. Instead of crusting up the top, breadcrumbs are mixed into the casserole as a thickener. Then beaten egg whites are folded in, so the dish puffs like a soufflé. The result is surprisingly light and airy (for a cheesy pasta dish) as well as quick and easy (don’t let the word “soufflé” scare you!). I served it with meatballs and a salad. Yumm!
Souffléed Macaroni and Cheese
Adapted from Gourmet, 2008
1 1/2 cups scalded milk
1 cup soft bread crumbs (A perfect way to use leftover bread!)
1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup cooked macaroni (I added a bit more, because this didn’t seem like enough to me.)
3 large eggs, separated
[1 tablespoon chopped parsley] (I left this out because I didn’t have it on hand. BUT, I will add it next time.)
1 tablespoon grated onion (Grating the onion works perfectly – you get the flavor without the texture. . . I used a little less than a tablespoon because I was afraid the flavor would be too “oniony”)
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons melted butter
In a large bowl, pour the scalded milk over soft breadcrumbs and add the cheese. Then cover and let stand until cheese melts, 5 to 10 minutes. Add macaroni. In a small bowls, mix the beaten egg yolks, onion, salt, and melted butter. Then stir into the macaroni mixture.
Now for the soufflé part: Beat the egg whites until stiff (not dry) and fold into macaroni mixture. Pour into a buttered 1 1/2-quart casserole. Bake at 350 degrees until puffed and golden, about 35 minutes.