I didn’t get to eat this weeknight dinner at the appropriate dinner time this week. Instead, I ate probably two of the worst gas station hot dogs I’ve ever had in my life while spending an hour driving back from an assignment. I didn’t get back to the office until 11 p.m. and ended up scarfing down half the mac and cheese before collapsing on the couch to watch Worst Cooks in America.
I’m a sucker for junk TV.
I suggest not eating two gas station hot dogs before scaring down this mac and cheese. Because it’s delicious. And it deserves to be eaten with an empty, willing stomach.
Recipe for baked ham and pea mac and cheese
- 8 oz. elbow macaroni or small pasta
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2.5 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup diced ham
- 1 cup frozen peas
Set salted water to boil. Cook the pasta until al dente. Reserve one cup of cooking liquid and then drain the rest.
While the pasta cooks, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Melt the butter over medium heat in a sauce pan. Add the flour, whisking until well blended, about two minutes. Slowly add the milk, nutmeg, salt and bay leaf, and continue to whisk until it thickens.
Stir in the cheese. Remove the bay leaf. Add the pasta, cooking liquid, ham and peas to the cheese sauce. Mix well.
Pour into a baking dish. Top with your choice of bread crumbs, shredded cheese or French’s Fried Onions (a personal favorite of Will’s). Bake for 15 minutes. Enjoy.