I've had a long relationship with macaroni and cheese. Earliest memories come from the good ol' Kraft blue box variety, either with or without cut up hot dogs mixed in. It was a treat when I was upgraded to the Velveeta shells and cheese (which I no longer have the taste for, sadly). Then, of course, there was the progression into college and the many packs of Easy Mac I went through to save money and stay fed. And, now in my adult years, whenever I see this comfort food on a menu, I order it.
Homemade mac and cheese is easy to make, as you can imagine. I mean there are only a few other things to throw in besides the title ingredients, but I feel there is an art in making it that I have yet to perfect.
I make a good one, but definitely not the best I've ever had. It's getting the right mix of cheeses, a well-seasoned sauce, and the delicious crumb topping just right. The latest version I made included cheddar, white cheddar, and a mixture of Parmesan and Romano cheeses.
Note: The Pioneer Woman says to grate your own cheese for better melting. She is right, of course. I love her.
First, you have to create a thickening agent by combining melted butter, flour, and milk and whisking away over a medium heat. Add salt, pepper, and paprika to taste and then slowly add handfuls of whatever cheeses you'd like to melt into the mixture slowly.
I've put together this recipe based on a combination of recipes I've seen online and by watching Food Network.
Boil and drain your macaroni noodles and don't overcook them. You want them to be able to hold up to the cheese. Add the cheese sauce, mixing it all together so every noodle gets some of the action. Transfer to a greased baking pan and add the crumb topping, which is melted butter mixed with bread crumbs and a little more cheese.
Pop in the over at 425 degrees for about 20-25 minutes. I usually just put it in with whatever else I have cooking. The top will get nice and golden.
With baked mac and cheese, you're most likely going to have a few clumps of cheese, which I like! Grating the cheese by hand helped, but I cheated with the Parmesan and Romano cheeses and used the shredded kind in the bag.
Homemade Mac and Cheese:
- a few tablespoons of butter, melt slowly in a saucepan over medium heat
- a tablespoon or two of flour
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups of milk
- salt, pepper, paprika to taste
- 1/2 c. to a 1 cup each of cheddar, white cheddar, Parmesan, and Romano (again, use whatever cheeses you think would be good - like Gruyere!)
- 1 package of macaroni or whatever shape of pasta you'd like
- 2 tablespoons of melted butter
- 3/4 c. of bread crumbs
- more cheese!
This makes a whole pan full of mac and cheese, which is good because I think it's even better the next day as leftovers.
Enjoy the eats!