I present to you: my pretty-famous-among-friends-and-family mac & cheese recipe. :D
I've made it for tons of get togethers and holidays - it's normally the one thing that doesn't have any leftovers! This recipe is based on Fannie Farmer's classic baked mac and cheese, but I've edited it quite a bit over the years and found out all sorts of things that you should and shouldn't do.
This instructable will cover making a super easy mac and cheese, how to turn that into a baked mac and cheese, and also how to get the best mac and cheese that you can.
It really is pretty simple to make mac and cheese from scratch - and it tastes so much better than mac and cheese out of a box!
Step 1: Ingredients:
- 2 cups whole milk (room temp is best! - set it out a little before you begin)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 1 pound elbow pasta (dried)
- 1 pound cheese of choice - go for sharp and/or stinky. I'm using an aged medium cheddar!
- bread crumbs
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon dried mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- I prefer to use whole milk - I've used lower fat milks in the past and it just tastes a little flat. You can even do one cup of milk and one of cream if you're feeling crazy!
- This recipe is easily doubled, but I've found that when I double it I don't increase the flour/butter. 4 tablespoons of each still make enough roux to thicken additional milk/cream. :) The additional butter also made it greasy.
- Use a high quality cheese - cheese that comes shredded and covered in cornstarch is bad. Velveeta is bad. Blocks of Kraft cheese is acceptable. The more processed the cheese is, the greasier it will get.
- Sharp cheese is better! The flavor will be slightly diluted in the roux/milk mix.
- You probably won't use the whole pound of pasta, but it's good to cook the whole thing so you get the right sauce/pasta ratio.
- You can change up the seasonings as you like! I've just included what I use in mine.
Step 2: Boil the Pasta/shred the Cheese
Boil the pasta for the minimum time it reads on the package - you want it al dente and no further. If you boil it to death it'll make the mac and cheese soggy. :) Once it's done, drain it and set it aside.
Shred the cheese using the large side on a box grater or with a food processor. I actually broke my food processor the day before I did this. Shredding the cheese by hand will take a few minutes. Brace yourself. :D
Step 3: Make the Roux
(make sure you have your spices measured out and ready to go or you could burn the roux!)
Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Once it's melted, add in the flour and a few grinds of black pepper. Using a whisk, stir the flour into the butter until it is combined and has no lumps.
Keep mixing this around until it turns a light brown color and smells nutty. :) This will take a few minutes over medium heat and you will want to stir it constantly or it could burn.
Once it's brown and nutty, dump in your spices and stir them around until fragrant. Once they're combined, add the milk!
Step 4: Boil!
Once the milk is in, turn up the heat a little and stir like a maniac. You want to break up the roux so the mixture is nice and smooth - you'll see lots of clumps at first.
Keep stirring until it comes up to a boil - let it boil for two minutes while stirring constantly. It should get nice and thick during this time - the whisk will begin to leave marks in the sauce as shown in the third picture. :)
Once the two minutes is up, turn down the heat to low and keep stirring until the crazy bubbling stops. At this point, taste it - does it taste like flour? If so, you will want to simmer it a few more minutes. If it tastes good, move on to adding the cheese!
Step 5: Add the Cheese!
You'll want to add the cheese little by little. I normally put in two handfuls at a time.
Mix each batch of cheese in until it's melted and then add more. Make sure to keep the heat on low and keep stirring. :)
Once all the cheese is in, taste the sauce. You can add more salt and pepper at this point, or any other seasonings you like.
Step 6: Add the Macaroni!
Add in half of it at first, and then keep adding until you reach what looks like a good ratio of sauce to macaroni. :D I ended up using 3/4 of the pasta.
Step 7: Now You Have Mac and Cheese!
Congrats! You're awesome. And probably about to eat a ton of it and then take an accidental nap. :D
But... if you feel the need to go above and beyond and eat the best macaroni and cheese you've ever had, please continue to the next step.
Step 8: How to Make Baked Macaroni and Cheese
And it's super easy to do.
- Preheat the oven to 425 F
- Fill a 9x9 baking dish with macaroni and cheese
- Sprinkle a couple of handfuls of breadcrumbs over the top
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until the top is browned and crispy
Step 9: Now You Have Two Types of Macaroni and Cheese
And lots of friends.