When I was little, my maternal grandparents used to host Thanksgiving every year. And just like any other holiday, I would arrive looking for a few key staples: the stuffing, the mashed potatoes, the pre-meal black olives that I would place on my fingers and pretend I got a manicure, and the cheese filled celery sticks that I would lick the cheese out of and throw the celery away.
When I got older and my parents starting hosting Thanksgiving, I wanted to find my own staple to bring to the table. Something that people could look forward to and rely on me for, and something that I could pass down to my kids when my mom passes the turkey down to me, so I can undoubtedly take on the job as if I am precisely diffusing a bomb for five hours.
One year, I decided this staple might be rolls. As the turkey cooled for carving and the final touches were being put on the side dishes, I volunteered to butter and bake the rolls, which to some members of my family are arguably the most important part of the meal. I thought it was a can’t lose move. But it turns out, when you reach in to grab your cooked rolls and accidentally light your oven mitt on fire, filling the whole kitchen with smoke and a burnt smell that begins to overtake every other pleasant smell, just as your guests start to arrive, you put yourself in a can lose situation.
So I ditched the rolls. Or rather, gave them back to my aunt, who’d failed to ruin them or set off a smoke alarm even once. Show off.
Then, after a solid year of pouting and self-deprecation, another year of Internet research, and then a tentative shopping trip for cheeses I’d never heard of, I found my side dish. My staple. My claim to Thanksgiving table fame.
I will admit, it’s not a walk in the park. And while I’ve gotten into a good rhythm over the years, I still usually sit down at the Thanksgiving table looking slightly weathered and a little sweatier than I’d prefer, but it’s always worth it. So if you’re looking for something to spice up your Thanksgiving, your Christmas, or even just your Tuesday, might I recommend this recipe. It’s DELICIOUS.
Plus, if you make it enough, people start to forget that Martha Stewart created it and start calling it “your macaroni”, allowing you to feel like an innovative culinary queen (or king.) And that, my friends, is a can’t lose situation.
Also, pro-tip: grate your cheese before you start.