Italian Style Cheese and Macaroni

Italian Style Cheese and Macaroni (16 Servings)

Although I inherited this recipe from my mother’s recipe box, I really don’t know if she ever cooked it. I figure it comes from sometime in the 1960s, and sat in the recipe box, unremarked for many years. It was typeset and printed on yellow index card stock. Notable on the bottom of the card is a legend identifying it as being “From Martha Logan’s "Around the World in Cheese” Collection". I have no idea who that is, and it is a name so obscure that I could not easily find a link to it on the web.On a blog called Kook’s Korner I found a tantalizing hint of who Ms. Logan might be (and she was not the Martha Logan character on the show “24”!)  It is a scan of the cover of the out-of-print Modern Homemakers Cookbook, showing that it was written by one Beth Bailey McLean, who is identified as “Director, Martha Logan Service”.  I might have to do real-world research in order to find out!

The recipe is easy to describe. It is macaroni and cheese where a flour-thickened tomato sauce fills in for a traditional cream sauce. The thing that I find old-fashioned and charming about it is the second ingredient – “¼ cup fat”. Crisco, lard, bacon fat, bear grease – the recipe-writer doesn’t care. How oddly dangerous and indiscriminate that ingredient seems in the olive-oil-soaked 21st century!

1 pound sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (makes about 4 cups)

¼ cup fat

2 medium onions, thinly sliced

2 cans (28 ounces each) tomatoes

¼ cup sugar

2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

½ teaspoon sweet basil, crushed

¼ cup flour

¼ cup water

16 ounces elbow macaroni, cooked and drained

Melt fat in a large skillet. Add onion and cook until a golden color. Stir in tomatoes, sugar, salt, pepper, and sweet basil. Simmer 10 min. Make a paste of the flour and water. Add to tomato mixture, stirring until smooth and thickened. Remove from heat and cheese and stir until melted. Combine tomato sauce with hot cooked macaroni. Place in a 4 quart casserole or baking pan. Bake uncovered in a moderate oven (350°) for 40 min. Serve hot.

Note: This recipe divides in half easily for a family meal.

                    From Martha Logan’s “Around the World in Cheese” Collection


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