After eating some tasting menu or another (I do so many, I can hardly keep track), I wanted to replicate a taste combination of garlic and tarragon. This is not an uncommon combination by any stretch of the imagination, but it was after this tasting that I was making the Good Eats baked macaroni and cheese that I decided to make this variant. The tarragon adds a lovely undertone of sweetness that takes what would otherwise be a fantastic macaroni and cheese and turns it into something slightly exotic.
Elbow macaroni: 1/2 lb
Butter: 3 tbsp
Flour: 3 tbsp
Powdered mustard: 1 tbsp
Garlic powder: 1 tbsp (or 1 minced garlic)
Milk: 3 cup
Yellow onion: 1 small or medium, diced
Fresh Tarragon: 1 tbsp, chopped
Large egg: 1
Extra sharp cheddar cheese: 1 cup, shredded
Colby cheese: 1 cup, shredded
Salt and Pepper
Butter: 2 tbsp
Panko bread crumbs: 1 cup
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Cook your pasta in boiling water. Remember, it's going to bake some more, so leave a little bite there.
3. Melt the topping butter in a pan and mix in the panko. Set aside.
4. Take the 3 tablespoons of butter and melt in a large sauce pan. Add the onions and sweat (or sofrito). Whisk in the flour and stir for a few minutes, until there is a nutty smell or until the flour starts turning a shade or so darker of brown.
5. Stir in the milk, herbs, spices, and salt. Simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and add more salt if the bechamel is lackluster in flavor.
6. Crack the egg into a small bowl and pour in a bit of the bechamel to temper the egg. Mix that, and pour it into the sauce pan.
7. Stir in 2/3 of the cheese. Stir or fold the macaroni into the cheese sauce and pour into a 9 x 12 baking dish, or a deep 8 round casserole, or whatever seems to hold it best. I tend to use the pyrex baking dishes because they have a convenient cover and carrying case for taking to parties.
8. Cover with the rest of the cheese and cover that with the buttery panko.
9. Bake for 30 minutes. If, for whatever reason, the panko is not golden brown and delicious, put it back in until it is.
10. If you are of strong will, let rest for a few minutes before eating. I usually do that. For the second serving.
Notes: Choose your cheddar carefully. While the recipe can be made with whatever cheese you have, the relatively small amount of cheddar is best served by something with a lot of flavor. This means that you will be shredding the cheddar yourself, a task that I usually delegate to the shredding disc of my food processor. The Colby is mainly there for mellowing out the cheddar as well as a certain general texture to the taste.
Published on August 21, 2010 Last edited on August 22, 2010
I made something similar to this last weekend but I did not use Tarragon. I wonder what kind of flavor it gives the macaroni. I heard that it is vaguely related to the licorice family. Is that true? Anyway, sounds like a great recipe. I will try this one next weekend. Thanks!