Betsys Macaroni & Cheese
One of Elton's first meals in America...
In the late 60s 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
After a year in New York, Peter and I came back to Los Angeles. I was then
managing Albert Grossmans 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 cant 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 its 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 dont 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
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.