Of Medical School and Macaroni (Or I Like My Mac and Cheese with a Side of Broccoli)

When my friend was in medical school, he basically lived on macaroni and cheese from a box, but he found ways to make it more interesting. I used to come back from California to visit him at Christmas and we’d hit the college town bars. Afterwards, he’d make me his late night mac and cheese specialty. It involved powdered cheese, steamed (frozen) broccoli, and chicken breasts on the George Foreman. He’d mix it all up and serve it to me. Now, this wasn’t exactly gourmet but it did go nicely with all of the cheap beer and dollar long islands we consumed. Plus the combination was sort of inspired.

Now that I’m a slightly more civilized adult, I often make my own macaroni and cheese from scratch. It’s a great way to use up cheese, and it’s the sort of thing you can freeze pretty easily. I usually throw together some combination of sharp cheddar, aged Gouda, and Jarlsberg to make it more interesting.

I made a batch recently and decided it needed a bit of the med school special treatment. I steamed fresh broccoli and grilled some Italian chicken sausage to go with it.

Here’s the recipe in case you want to make your own mac and cheese. I recommend adding the broccoli and chicken sausage. It adds a lot of flavor.

Macaroni and Cheese
Modified from this recipe.

½ C unsalted butter
6 T flour
5 C whole milk
6-7 C of cheese (I like to use a combination of cheddar, aged Gouda, and Jarlsberg because I usually have them in the house. Gruyere is also good.)
½ C fresh grated parmesan
2 tsp salt
½ tsp fresh cracked pepper, optional
1 pound of elbow macaroni

Preheat oven to 400.

Bring water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside, reserving one cup of the water.

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat and stir in flour. Cook roux, stirring constantly, about 3-4 minutes. Whisk in milk and bring the sauce to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat and allow the sauce to simmer, stirring occasionally. Add the cheeses, salt, and pepper. Mix to combine.

Add noodles and the reserved water to the cheese mixture. Place into a buttered baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes.

I often bake my macaroni in batches using chafing dishes.

You can top the macaroni with a buttered breadcrumb and cheese topping, but I usually skip this step.

Here’s the mac and broccoli before I added the sliced sausage, mixed it all up, and devoured the mess.