For those of you not well acquainted with the minutia of fine Canadian cuisine, one meal stands above the rest: a dish beloved by all as a symbol of our fair land. The Scots have Haagis and the Australians have Vegemite. We have Kraft Dinner, or, to use the the parlance of our times, KD.
Although more aptly described as pan-North-American, KD is a meal-in-a-blue-box favoured by single moms, children and college students. It contains about a serving of macaroni pasta and a pouch containing powdered processed cheddar cheese. The idea is to cook the pasta and then combine the cheese with butter and milk. The effect is a pasta covered with an orange sauce that resembles that nacho cheese stuff that comes out of the pump at 7-11.
To those not raised on KD, it is also absolute and total shite.
However, with Canada Day behind us, I have been craving comfort food. As KD is not available in the UAE, there has been only one recourse -- to resort to the Joy of Cooking. In that tome of all things traditional, I have learned to reconstruct the dish from its most primitive origins, using actual non-chemical ingredients.
So, dear readers, I present.
-two cups of macaroni pasta
-two tablespoons of butter
-two tablespoons of flour
-one cup of milk
-two cups of grated cheese (cheddar, or as you like)
-spices: salt, pepper, bay leaf and paprika.
-one clove of garlic
First, get a casserole dish about six to nine inches across. Take a clove of garlic and spread around the dish's sides. Preheat the oven to about 350. Boil the pasta. Remove from heat and drain when it is just a little short of Al Dente.
In a pot, create a classic white/béchamel sauce. Take two tablespoons of butter and melt. Remove from heat and add the flour. Add back onto heat and add the milk, stirring constantly. Add salt, pepper, paprika and a bay leaf (All optional) and stir over low heat until the sauce thickens to the consistency of mushroom soup.
Include two cups of grated cheddar cheese (Orange cheddar to be traditional. White cheddar to be classy). I've also been known to add other cheese sitting around and in need of use ie; leftover feta, mozerella or gouda works well. I imagine Brie would too.
When combining the cheese with the bechamel, use a low heat and spend as little time as possible letting the cheese melt, otherwise it may become grainy. Take the cheese sauce off the element. Make sure the pasta is well drained and then mix with the cheese sauce until well coated. Put into the casserole dish. Top with bread crumbs and more cheese. Bake in the oven until the pasta is bubbly and the top is brown and crispy, about half an hour to 45 minutes.
Enjoy with crusty french bread. To get all Canadian, pair with a light beer. If you can't find Canadian beer, just take a German one and water it down.