For homemade comfort and stick-to-your-bones warmth, it’s hard to beat macaroni and cheese, a longtime staple of Southern kitchens with recipes as varied as the cooks who make them. But even in this crowded field, Carrie Morey’s version stands out. Cooked in a cast iron skillet with vermicelli instead of macaroni, Caroline’s Macaroni Pie combines the lightness of a soufflé with the ease of a casserole.
Caroline’s Macaroni Pie
1 lb. vermicelli or thin spaghetti
4 large eggs
2 cups milk
1 tsp. dry mustard
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
5 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 tbsp. butter, at room temperature
Freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. If baking the same day, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Cook the pasta for 1 minute less than the package instructions state. Drain the pasta and reserve in a little of the cooking water to cool briefly.
Beat together eggs, milk, mustard, and cayenne in a large bowl. Add the pasta and 4 cups of the cheese. Mix well.
Butter a 12-inch skillet with 1 tablespoon of the butter. Pour in the pasta. Top with the remaining cup of cheese, dot with the remaining tablespoon of butter, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. At this point you can cover the pie with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Uncover and let the pie come up to room temperature as the oven heats.
Bake 45 minutes, checking at 35 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly.
Caroline’s Macaroni Pie is just one of many time-tested dishes in Morey’s new cookbook, Callie’s Biscuits and Southern Traditions: Heirloom Recipes from Our Family Kitchen by Carrie Morey, copyright 2013. Published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.