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Over the Rainbow Macaroni and Cheese

There's something truly comforting about a warm, gooey serving of macaroni and cheese, and in my family no Thanksgiving dinner is complete without it. Ask any African-American family what's on their table on Turkey Day, and I'm sure they will agree. While some might think of mac 'n' cheese as a main dish, this is the perfect accompaniment to turkey with all the fixings. This particular recipe is from the cookbook by award-winning singer Patti Labelle and definitely fits the bill. The four cheeses add plenty of flavor to the dish and the Velveeta makes it creamy. So ignore the calories and dig in. -- Joyce Howard, Food copy editor

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound elbow macaroni
8 tablespoons (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Muenster cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded mild Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup (8 ounces) Velveeta, cut into small cubes
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a deep 2 1/2-quart casserole.

Bring the large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the oil, then the elbow macaroni, and cook until the macaroni is just tender, about 7 minutes. Do not overcook. Drain well. Return to the cooking pot.

In a small saucepan, melt 8 tablespoons of the butter. Stir into the macaroni. In a large bowl, mix the Muenster, mild and sharp Cheddar, and Monterey Jack cheeses. To the macaroni, add the half-and-half, 1 1/2 cups of the shredded cheese, the cubed Velveeta, and the eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to the buttered casserole. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese and dot with the remaining one tablespoon of butter.

Bake until it's bubbling around the edges, about 35 minutes. Serve hot. Makes 4 to 6 servings

Note: It is sometimes difficult to buy some of the cheeses shredded. So we often buy blocks of the cheese, shred what's needed, and freeze the rest for the next time we make this dish. Who knows? You might have another craving for it at Christmas.

"Labelle Cuisine : Recipes to Sing About" by Patti LaBelle, Laura B. Randolph and Laura Randolph Lancaster

Thursday, November 15, 2001

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