Betsy’s Macaroni & Cheese

 

One of Elton's first meals in America...

 

In the late 60’s I moved to New York and worked for MGM. I shared an office with

Peter Asher. We had met in Los Angeles when he did our TV show "Hollywood A Go

Go". Peter was half of the English vocal duo of Peter and Gordon. The MGM group

was folks that were left from the Judy Garland era. They were looking for

contemporary ears to take over the creative decisions of the company. San

Francisco was just coming into its full flower and the British scene was

dominating the charts. The Beatles manager, Brian Epstein had just died and a

new manager had come in and fired all the top people at Apple Records. Peter and

company came over to MGM. We were the only two ‘kids’ so we spent a lot of time

together.

 

After a year in New York, Peter and I came back to Los Angeles. I was then

managing Albert Grossman’s office, which included Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, The

Band, Peter Paul and Mary, and a host of other artists. Peter was managing James

Taylor, who had just broken with the song "Fire and Rain". A song that I had

gotten recorded first by R. B. Greaves, and thereby had ‘broken’ James.

Peter lived with his girlfriend Betsy in a big old house, near Hancock Park,

that was a good visiting place for artists and had lots of rooms. James’

brothers and sister (Kate, Livingston and the older one, I can’t remember his

name... was it Alex?) came to try their hands and voices in the music business.

I remember Elton John playing the 300 seat Troubadour night club by himself, on

piano, on his first visit to the states and afterwards coming to Peters for

dinner. Elton was a shy fellow with horn rimmed glasses then.

 

Well, the kitchen was a nice place to hang out with Betsy, and one evening she

showed me this dish and I have been making it ever since.

Boil a one pound package of macaroni and drain it. Be sure to use lots of water

so the pasta will not be sticky and you may want to blanch it when it’s ready,

so it will not get mushy.

 

While this is going on, in a sauce pan, melt 3 tablespoons of butter and stir in

2 tablespoons of flour until it bubbles, for a bit (one minute for each

tablespoon), so the flour cooks, but don’t burn it. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of milk

slowly as it thickens. This is a basic white sauce you can use for Chipped Beef

on Toast and Welsh Rarebit as well. (For the former add the chipped beef and the

later takes the sauce recipe that follows without the pasta, poured onto

crumpets)

 

Fold in a big cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese. Add a teaspoon of

Worcestershire sauce, a teaspoon of salt, a little paprika and some cayenne

pepper. Chop up a couple of green onions and mix them in as well.

Put the whole thing in a casserole bowl and grate some parmesan cheese on top,

sprinkle a little more paprika and bread crumbs for color. A crispy, crunchy

top makes all the difference. Bake at 350• for 30 minutes and brown the top with

a quick broil if necessary.

 

Feel free to experiment with cheeses and other goodies like bacon bits and left

over meats and vegetables. This macaroni is a friendly and hospitable dish.