Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Winter’s coming, winter’s coming – it’s time to get out the warm fuzzy blankets, good movies, and comfort foods. And what’s the ultimate comfort food? Why, it’s Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese, of course!

Macaroni and cheese recipes have been around for a dog’s age. It’s a simple enough meal to make, but when you do it right – perfectly right, just as this classic baked mac and cheese recipe helps you do – you will crave it all winter long, we promise you. There’s just something about those luscious macaroni noodles all wrapped up in that warm, gooey cheese sauce that makes you feel better with every bite. Funny how we never want this meal in the summer time, but as soon as those cold winds start to blow our mouths start watering for yummy mac and cheese!

There are lots of pasta recipes out there, and many of them are very good – don’t get us wrong! But the best recipes, by far, are the ones for classic macaroni and cheese. Where did this simple yet delicious cheesy noodle meal originate and just how did it get so popular? Well, we will tell you.

Pasta casseroles mixed with cheese go back as far as the fourteenth century, according to the famous Medieval cook book – Liber de Coquina – the “Book of Cookery”, in which so many of the earliest recipes have been recorded. In this particular book, a very early pasta and Parmesan dish was written down for posterity. Another fourteenth century medieval text called the “Form of Cury” also featured a pasta and cheese recipe called “makerouns”. This cheese and pasta casserole was made with lovely hand-cut noodles and layered with butter and cheese. Yummy!

In American food history, there’s the story of Thomas Jefferson discovering macaroni in Northern Italy and also in Paris, France. He was so fascinated by the shape of the pasta noodles, he sketched them in his notebook and even wrote very detailed notes about their cooking procedures. For a long time, Jefferson tried to bring the European dish to his home country – first by commissioning William Short, the American ambassador to Paris, to buy a macaroni-pasta making machine. Sadly, the machine didn’t work properly and so Jefferson eventually had to import both macaroni and Parmesan cheese so he could use them at Monticello.

It wasn’t until 1802, however, that mac and cheese won its way into the American heart. That’s when Jefferson had it served up at a state dinner, calling it macaroni pie. As the story goes, news of this meal spread and the popularity of macaroni and cheese “pie” caught on in the United States – it’s been a favourite ever since. And did you know July 14th is National Macaroni and Cheese Day? We didn’t, but now that we do, we’re going to celebrate it every year by cooking this scrumptious classic baked mac and cheese recipe!

As for Canadian mac and cheese history, it was apparently brought into the country by British immigrants. An early Canadian cookbook, “Modern Practical Cookery”, printed in 1845, recommended making a puff pastry lining for the dish and creating a sauce with egg yolks, cream, mace, mustard, and grated Parmesan cheese.

The famous “Kraft Dinner”, a quick and easy boxed version of mac and cheese finds its orgins in Canada as well. And according to Sasha Chapman, a writer for The Walrus, it’s Canada’s official National comfort food, with poutine coming in at a close second.

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