(Photo courtesy of Marilyn Cole on Flickr under CC license)
(Photo courtesy of Marilyn Cole on Flickr under CC license)

By ALEXANDRA WEE, Staff Columnist

Winding the clocks an hour back means one thing—winter’s on its way! And while some are bummed about shorter days and chillier winds (or Christmas tunes jingling bells already), I turn to one of life’s greatest solutions to, well, everything: comfort food.

Though a childhood staple to many, I’ve never been a huge fan of macaroni and cheese. I don’t know if it was the smell, the texture or the color that had me scrunching up my nose at the Kraft classic. It wasn’t until a lunch outing to Vinsetta Garage in Royal Oak, that I found what I had been missing. Foodies everywhere, brace yourself. One bite into their famous triple cheesed-out, crunchy crusted M&C sent my tastebuds to a happy—and most scrumptious— place.

If you haven’t dined at the city’s tasty little secret yet (literally built from an old car garage), drop everything now and go in the name of cheesy pastas. But to hold you over until then, gather ‘round a dish of your own baked cheddar bliss sure to you warm you up on the first bite. This recipe takes a little time, but I promise it’s worth every crumb.

Recipe adapted from Alton Brown’s “Good Eats” (Food Network)

Grab:
½ pound elbow macaroni
3 tbs butter (plus 3 tbs more for topping)
3 tbs flour
1 tbs powdered mustard (or 1 ½ tbs of regular mustard)
3 cups milk
½ cup yellow onion (finely diced)
½ tsp paprika
1 large egg
12 ounces shredded sharp cheddar
1 tsp kosher salt
Black pepper
1 cup panko bread crumbs

How to:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook macaroni in boiling, salted water. In a separate pot, melt butter and whisk in flour and mustard. Keep whisking until completely free of lumps. Stir in milk, onion and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes.

Temper* in the egg. Stir in ¾ of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.

Melt remaining butter in a pan and toss bread crumbs to coat. Top macaroni with bread crumbs and bake for 30 minutes or until desired goldenness.

*How do I temper an egg? Tempering in the egg prevents it from scrambling (due to differences in temperature) when added to a hot mixture. To do this, first crack the egg in a bowl and whisk. Continue to whisk while gradually adding a little of the hot mixture to the egg. When the egg mixture becomes warmer, you can add it to the hot mixture. Don’t worry about taking precise temperatures; just a few tablespoons of the hot mixture should be enough to “warm up” the egg!

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