I am not the biggest fan of butter. My family didn't use it when I was growing up and so I don't either. I don't butter my bread or add it to veggies. So I realize that I am in the minority here. I would guess that 99% of Americans like butter and I am in the 1% that doesn't. Being anti-butter is one of my weird food quirks. But I totally get that I have to use it in certain recipes like making a bechamel sauce, that's typically used in baked pasta dishes like lasagna, pasticcio and of course macaroni and cheese. A bechamel is just equal parts butter and flour whisked together over low heat. Add in milk and continue whisking until it forms a sauce that's thick enough to coat the back of your spoon. So I happened to have butter and milk on hand and decided to make a mac and cheese for lunch. I had just enough for two side-dish portions so here's what I came up with. I tried to make this healthier than other recipes by using just one tablespoon of butter and skim milk. I also like my macaroni to be al dente in mac and cheese so I cooked it only half way through to keep it from getting mushy. The macaroni will continue to cook when you bake it in the oven so it will come out perfectly toothsome.
1 tablespoon of unsalted butter (don't use margarine, it's just not the same)
1 tablespoon of flour
1 cup of skim milk (you can use regular milk but I tried to make this lower-fat with skim)
1/4 teaspoon of dried mustard
2 sprigs of fresh thyme finely chopped
Salt and white pepper
1 cup of shredded Comte cheese, which is a French Gruyere (you can use whatever you like or have on hand)
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups of cooked elbow macaroni (cook only half the time)
Over low heat, melt the butter in a sauce pan. Whisk in the flour and continue stirring until the butter and flour are incorporated into a thick paste. Slowly add the milk and continue whisking and turn up the heat slightly. When the mixture thickens slightly, add in the cheese, dried mustard and thyme. Season with salt and white pepper.
Stir in the elbow macaroni and divide into two oven-proof ramekins or small baking dishes. Sprinkle breadcrumbs evenly over each one. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, then under the broiler for 2 minutes until the breadcrumb crust is golden brown.
I just baked the one dish and saved the other one for another day. I let it cool in the ramekin and wrapped it tightly with plastic wrap and put it in the freezer. Just bake at 350 but add about 5-7 minutes to the cooking time.