America is blessed with one of the world’s most diverse cuisines. This astounding heritage is largely due to remarkable people, some famous – some unknown, who shared their favorite dishes and culinary discoveries with a nation always interested in innovation and change.
One such person was Thomas Jefferson, American’s third president, who brought the concept of gourmet dining to America. While in France as America’s ambassador there, he dined and traveled extensively, writing notes and tasting endless dishes unknown in America.
Among his luggage when he returned home to America were the drawings for a recent Italian kitchen innovation – a hand cranked macaroni machine. Once New England’s cheddar cheese was added, a truly American classic was invented – Mac and Cheese, a dish that has fed generations of hungry college students.
Yet some universities have their own twist on such classics like Harvard’s Oyster Mac and Cheese. Enjoy! It’s the perfect congratulation dish to serve the graduate senior no matter their alma mater!
- 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
- Salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 small onion, minced
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
- Black pepper to taste
- Cayenne pepper to taste
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 pound sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 12 shucked Taylor oysters, 1/2cup liquor reserved
- 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- Place the macaroni in a large pot of salted boiling water.
- Cook for 8 minutes, uncovered, drain in a colander, and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Butter a 2-quart casserole and set aside.
- In a small heavy saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat.
- Add the onion and stir for 2 minutes.
- Add the flour and mustard.
- Season with salt and both peppers and stir 1 minute longer.
- Gradually add the milk and all but about 2 ounces of the cheese.
- Reduce the heat to low, and stir slowly till the cheese melts and the sauce is smooth.
- Remove the pan from the heat.
- Layer about one-half the drained macaroni in the prepared casserole.
- Stir in half of the sauce and arrange half of the oysters over the top.
- Repeat with the remaining macaroni and oysters.
- Spoon the remaining sauce over the top.
- Pour on the oyster liquor and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
- In a small mixing bowl, combine the bread crumbs and melted butter.
- Spoon evenly over the top.
- Bake till the casserole is bubbly and crusted for 25 to 30 minutes.