I think I was about 23 when my parents abandoned me and my sisters for Thanksgiving and went to the Cayman Islands. It was an ill-fated trip – if I remember correctly, they had no AC in their hotel and were attacked by gnats the entire time. They’ve never left us on this high holy holiday again. But we were to fend for ourselves that year and since none of us really knew how to prepare a full Thanksgiving dinner, we ordered a pre-made dinner. Including macaroni and cheese. It was that year we decided that mac & cheese was a must-have on the Thanksgiving table and I’ve been making Patti LaBelle’s Over The Rainbow recipe ever since.
I’ve brought it to every Friendsgiving celebration and it’s a total hit. It’s the real deal – five types of cheese, tons of butter and cream and pasta and I only make it once a year. Over the years, I’ve tweaked a few things in Patti’s recipe and so I shared that version on Minnesota Live (with a special guest taste tester who’s a real wild card – my four year old son Franklin!).
Thanksgiving Macaroni and Cheese
*adapted from Patti LaBelle*
1 lb cavatappi noodles
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup muenster cheese, shredded
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup gouda cheese, shredded
1/2 cup monterey jack cheese, shredded
2 cups half and half
8 ounces American cheese, chopped
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta until al dente (don’t overcook!), about 7-8 minutes. Drain then return to the pot. Add melted butter and stir to coat. Then add almost all of the cheese (reserving about 1/2 cup for the top), the half and half, the eggs and salt and pepper. Stir gently for about 3 minutes while the pot is still on the warm burner to start to melt and incorporate the cheese. Pour into a buttered dutch oven and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Bake at 350 covered for about 25 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for an additional 5 minutes or until the top is starting to brown and bubble. Remove from the oven and serve.