Thomas Jefferson, the 3rd President of the United States, was born on April 13, 1743. Jefferson served as minister to France, Secretary of State in Washington’s Cabinet and ran for President for the first time in 1796. He was elected Vice President to his opponent, John Adams, due to a major flaw in the Constitution. It seems that back in the early days, the winner of the presidential election became President, the second runner-up Vice President. You can imagine how that opened the door to all sorts of problems.
In any case, while Jefferson might not have invented Macaroni and Cheese, he did have a hand in making the dish popular. Jefferson first tasted Macaroni and Cheese while living in France. The future president became so enamored with Macaroni that he sketched a “macaroni” machine so that one could be made in America. Jefferson first served the French delicacy at a state dinner in 1802, and soon it was the talk of the town.
By Presidential Proclamation on March 21. 1938, Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed April 13th as a day to celebrate the birth of Thomas Jefferson. While he may have been the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson Day is not a Nationally celebrated holiday. Still, we can honor him by indulging in one of his favorites, the Mac and Cheese. Perfect for this the 34th Day of Lent.
Macaroni and French Cheese
1 lb Elbow Macaroni
1 Garlic Clove
2 tablespoons Butter
1 1/4 cups Crème Fraiche
1 1/2 cups Gruyère Cheese
1 1/2 cups Cantal Cheese (see note)
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon ground Black Pepper
1/3 cup dry Breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon Parsley Flakes
Note: Cantal Cheese can be substituted with a white Irish Cheddar Cheese or English Cheddar Cheese.
Heat an oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the macaroni according to package instructions and drain it.
While the macaroni is boiling, peel and slice the garlic in half. Rub the cut end of the garlic across the entire inner surface of a 3-quart baking dish. Melt butter and brush the same surface with the melted butter. Set aside.
Shred the two kinds of cheeses. Set aside.
Pour the drained macaroni into the prepared baking dish. Stir the Crème Fraiche, 1 1/2 cups of the shredded cheeses, salt, and pepper into the pasta. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and the remaining 1 1/2 cups of cheese over the surface of the macaroni and cheese.
Sprinkle lightly with parsley flakes for an added splash of color.
Bake the casserole, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes, until it is hot and bubbly throughout and turns light golden brown on top. Serve immediately.