Baked Macaroni from Monticello

Kitchen Tested
  • Yield 6 servings
  • Prep 20 mins
  • Cook 35 mins

A version of macaroni and cheese that will please adults and children alike.

For baked macaroni as it was probably served at Monticello, we turn to Mary Randolph's "Macaroni" in The Virginia House-Wife, which is essentially the same as a recipe that survives in the family manuscripts. Thomas Jefferson preferred real imported Parmesan cheese and tried to keep Monticello's larder stocked with a ready supply. Today, you'll find labeled "Parmigiano Reggiano" in the market.

Ingredients

4 cups whole milk
1 pound tube-shaped macaroni, such as small penne
-- Salt
8 ounces Parmesan cheese (preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano), or extra-sharp Farmhouse Cheddar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced

Instructions

  1. Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat it to 375 degrees. Stir together the milk and 4 cups of water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Add the macaroni, stirring well, and return to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the macaroni is tender (about 2 minutes for fresh, 4 to 6 minutes for fresh and dried, and 8 to 12 minutes for dried and boxed). Lightly drain the macaroni in a colander (it should be a little wet) and return to the pot. Season with salt to taste and toss well.
  2. Lightly butter a 2-quart casserole and cover the bottom with a third of the macaroni. Dot it with a third of the butter and shave a third of the cheese over it with a vegetable peeler or mandolin. Repeat the layers twice more, finishing with a thick layer of cheese. Bake until golden brown, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Recipe from Dining at Monticello: In Good Taste and Abundance, edited by Damon Lee Fowler and published by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc., 2005. Distributed by the University of North Carolina Press.

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