I'm pretty sure that this is really bad for you, but it is such comfort food it's got to be worth it. I've never been able to re-create my husband's grandmother's version of macaroni and cheese, but this is pretty close.
Now - a note about breadcrumbs. I think the breadcrumbs on top are the best part. Mr. Chef (aka my husband - who really is a chef) thinks they are .. I hate to say common, but I'm sure that's what he's thinking. This IS macaroni and cheese, though, so common is as common does. I'm sure Mr.WhatsCooking could make it into something gourmet - you can't imagine what he does with a box of Kraft Dinner - but I'm a little more ... well, common than that, I guess. So plain old Mac 'n Cheese WITH breadcrumbs on the top.
Old Fashioned Macaroni and Cheese.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Time: about an hour
8 oz pasta, any shape (shells or elbows work well, I used corkscrew)
1/2 small onion, fine dice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup butter or margarine
3 Tbsp. flour
1/2 cup chicken broth (you can use a bouillon cube in 1/2 cup water)
1 1/2 cups milk
4 oz. cream cheese, cut into small cubes
4 oz. shredded cheese, any kind (old cheddar, Monterey Jack, gouda, havarti - whatever you like)
1 cup breadcrumbs, dry or fresh - I prefer fresh, traditionally use dry
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
Start water boiling to cook pasta. Cook pasta while doing the white sauce. I suggest under cooking the pasta slightly because it has to bake in the oven.
In a medium sized saucepan, melt first amount of butter and add onion and garlic. Stir frequently until onion is soft and clear. Add in flour and cook for one minute. Pour in the broth and stir until smooth. Slowly add in the milk, stirring constantly, to make a white sauce. Cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly until sauce is thickened.
Please note : this sauce shouldn't be too thick, as the cheese will help thicken it up. Add the cream cheese and stir until melted. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately add shredded cheeses. Stir into the white sauce.
Butter a small casserole, add the pasta and pour the cheese sauce over top. Stir it all together. Mix the breadcrumbs with the melted butter, sprinkle over top, and bake uncovered for about 30 minutes in 350 degree oven. Check it occasionally to be sure the breadcrumbs aren't burning.