The Automat’s macaroni and cheese was at one time the whole city’s soul food, a comfort to us all. This recipe comes from the files of the New York Daily News where I was the food editor. It was one of several Automat recipes published in a pamphlet by the News sometime in the 1950s. There are several other versions, but this fits my taste memory, too. The last Automat was only feet away from the landmark News Building where I worked, and, in emotionally weak moments, I would run downstairs for a plate of the fortifying mac and cheese.
- 1½ tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1½ cups milk
- 2 tablespoons light cream (see Note)
- 1 packed cup shredded cheddar cheese
- ¼ cup crushed tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- Dash of ground cayenne pepper, or more to taste
- Dash of ground white pepper, or more to taste
- ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- ½ pound small elbow macaroni, cooked until barely done
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter a shallow baking dish.
In a small saucepan, over low heat, melt the butter, then blend in the flour and cook for about 2 minutes.
Beat in the milk, then the cream, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens. Remove from the heat.
Stir in the cheese and cook until melted, then add the tomatoes, sugar, cayenne, and white pepper. Taste for salt, and add to taste, starting with about ½ teaspoon.
Stir in the macaroni.
Pour into the prepared baking dish. Bake until the surface browns, 25 to 30 minutes.
This recipe serves 3.