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Historic Mac & Cheese Circa 1870

Our recent Independence Day inspired me. Thoughts of our red, white and blue flag waving proudly marched through my head as I thought not only about how very much our soldiers have given for our wonderful country recently, but also back to the start of the good old U.S. of A. Our founding fathers, one of whom I truly identify with as he loved food as much as I do. A man after my own heart, so to speak. Who was this man, you ask? Why, it was none other than Thomas Jefferson.

Jefferson is widely thought to have been the first to introduce macaroni and cheese to our fair citizens of the United States of America. In 1789 he returned from Europe, bringing with him the first macaroni machine (along with several noodle recipes). He even loved the stuff so much that as president, he served macaroni and cheese at a state dinner in 1802. Enough of the history lesson, on to the reason we’re all here – mac and cheese!

I came across this recipe perusing Kitchen Historic and knew as soon as I saw the recipe that I needed to try it. ASAP. I read the recipe and the comments, then ran to the pantry to see if I had all the ingredients on hand. Macaroni, milk, flour, butter cream, cheese, and spices. All set! Ingredients gathered, I set about my happy task of creating mac and cheese of historic proportions.

Recalling the comments from the original Kitchen Historic post, I decided to use slightly less pasta and decrease the amount of mustard powder used. Since the hubs doesn’t prefer spicy foods, I also omitted the cayenne. I figured that since I had some extra sharp cheddar on hand, that would definitely kick the flavor up a notch.

I started by unabashedly using all the modern conveniences available to me. The cheese was processed:

And then I set the water on to boil. The fusilli was cooked until tender and drained. While the pasta was cooking, I mixed the milk, flour and butter in a saucepan. I stirred and stirred and stirred until the butter was melted and all the ingredients were happily melded. Next, I added the cream, mustard powder, spices and cheddar cheese.

Now it was really starting to smell amazing in the kitchen. Once everything was mixed together, the pot simmered for about 5 minutes while the sauce thickened. Then the good part: adding the fusilli to the sauce.

Doesn’t that look yummy? After everything was mixed together and getting along famously, it was time for the taste test. The verdict: quite good, three elbows up. Not phenomenal, I-must-eat-the-entire-pot-now good, but good like a solid mac and cheese recipe should be. I am a saucy chick so I like lots of sauce on/in my food which is why I decreased the amount of pasta in the recipe slightly. This turned out nice and saucy. If you prefer a more traditional mac and cheese, bump the pasta up to 10 ounces as called for in the original modernized recipe.

Historic Mac & Cheese Circa 1870
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Recipe type: Entree, Side Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 as a side
 
Historic Mac & Cheese Circa 1870, adapted from Kitchen Historic, who adapted it from Jennie Jean's American Cookery Book.
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces pasta (I used fusilli)
  • 2 cups fat-free milk
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ⅔ cup whipping cream
  • ¼ teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 ounces extra sharp cheddar
Instructions
  1. Set a large pot of water to boil. Add the pasta and cook as directed on the package until tender. Strain the pasta and set aside.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, add the milk, flour and butter to a saucepan and stir over medium heat until combined and the butter has melted. Add the whipping cream, mustard powder, salt, pepper and cheddar cheese and stir to combine. Simmer for about five minutes to allow the mixture to thicken.
  3. Return to the cooked pasta to the sauce pot and stir to combine - let the flavors get really happy together. Serve and scarf down immediately!

Leftovers Note: This mac and cheese recipe reheated really well in the microwave the next morning. I think because I made it so saucy initially, there was no need to add any milk or liquid to it to bring back the creaminess. It made for a great breakfast the next day!

Many thanks to Kitchen Historic for the modernized recipe, and to Jennie June’s American Cookery Book for the original recipe.

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