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Recipe: Baked Macaroni and Cheese from the Automat

An institution for nearly a century, the Automat – self-service restaurants created by Horn & Hardart, in which food items were sold from coin-operated dispensers – offered customers in New York and Philadelphia a cheap and easy menu, which was especially popular during the Depression. At its height, Horn & Hardart operated more than 150 Automats.

This recipe for a classic Automat staple, Baked Macaroni and Cheese, comes from the 2002 book, "The Automat: The History, Recipes, and Allure of Horn & Hardart's Masterpiece," courtesy of author Marianne Hardart and the Hardart family.

Don't miss Mo Rocca's report on the history of the Automat on "CBS Sunday Morning" November 21!


Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

  • ¼ pound rigatoni macaroni
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pan
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • ½ pound sharp Cheddar cheese, cut into ¼-inch cubes
  • ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Instructions:

Cook the macaroni according to package directions. Drain.

  1. In a 1-quart saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. With a wire whisk, mix in the flour, salt and pepper. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, or until a smooth mixture forms. Continue to whisk and gradually add the milk; cook about 5 minutes, until the mixture is thick and smooth. Remove from heat.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked macaroni with the sauce, cheese, and Worcestershire sauce. Pour into a buttered 8 x 8 x 2 baking pan and bake for 25 minutes, or until the top browns.

     
From "The Automat: The History, Recipes, and Allure of Horn & Hardart's Masterpiece" by Lorraine Diehl and Marianne Hardart. Reprinted by permission of the author.

      
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Check out the "Sunday Morning" 2021 Food Issue Recipe Index for more menu suggestions, from all of the chefs, cookbook authors, flood writers and restaurateurs featured on our program, as well as the writers and editors of New York Times Cooking.

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