Grateful American Kids

Learn to make mac-n-cheese like Thomas Jefferson did!

In a thoroughly yummy culinary biography by Thomas Craughwell entitled, “Thomas Jefferson’s Crème Brûlée: How a Founding Father and His Slave James Hemings Introduced French Cuisine to America,” we learn of the 1784 deal that Thomas Jefferson made with his slave, James Hemings.

The Founding Father was traveling to Paris and wanted to bring James along “for a particular purpose” — to master the art of French cooking. In exchange for Hemings’ cooperation, Jefferson would grant his freedom.

Thus began one of the most unusual partnerships in United States history.

As Hemings apprenticed under master French chefs, Jefferson studied the cultivation of French crops (especially grapes for winemaking) so they might be replicated in American agriculture.

The two men returned home with such marvels as pasta, French fries, Champagne, macaroni and cheese, and crème brûlée. The narrative tells the story of their remarkable adventure — and even includes a few of their favorite recipes.

Are you ready to make a classic recipe? Try this version of Macaroni and Cheese!

7736Thomas Jefferson’s Macaroni and Cheese

Time: About 45 minutes

Makes: 6 to 8 services

You’ll need: 

  • boiled macaroni (8 oz. uncooked)
  • dots of butter (2 T. in all)
  • 1-1/4 cups cut-up sharp cheese (1/2″ cubes)
  • salt (1/4 tsp.)
  • pepper (1/4 tsp.)
  • 2 cups milk
  • paprika, to taste

Here’s how:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place boiled macaroni, dots of butter, sharp cheese, salt, pepper, and milk in alternating layers in a buttered 12 x 7-1/2 x 2-inch baking dish.
  3. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake for about 40 minutes, until golden brown on top.
  4. Serve hot from baking dish, garnished, if desired, with parsley sprigs, pimiento strips, pepper rings, etc.


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