Mac + Cheese
December 13, 2017
MAC + CHEESE LOVE
Homemade Macaroni and Cheese is one of those from-scratch dishes that is always worth the extra time; in about half and hour you can have a meal that puts the boxed stuff to shame. The key is a classic white sauce, or bechamel, the base for the creamy cheese sauce that the noodles will swim in. Once you learn how to make a bechamel, you can make creamy sauces for life. And making one is incredibly simple. For me, the success of this dish rests entirely on the combination of cheeses and finding the right balance of nutty, salty, and creamy. For years, my winning combination has been sharp cheddar, Muenster, and Parmesan. The resulting sauce isi crazy delicious.
VARIATIONS ON CLASSIC MAC + CHEESE
Once you’ve got this easy stovetop version down, it’s fun to play around with different variations. One of my favorites is a Buffalo Mac and Cheese. For this, stir in 2 cups of shredded rotisserie chicken mixed with a few dashes of hot sauce into the cheese sauce just before adding the pasta. Substitute crumbled blue cheese for the Parmesan cheese for a nice finishing touch. I will also never say “no” to Lobster Mac and Cheese. To pull this elevated dish together simply fold in 1 ½ pound of cooked lobster meat to the finished original recipe. I always like to reserve a few pieces of lobster to garnish on top.
MAC + CHEESE + HOLIDAYS
There’s plenty to love about this classic side dish, especially the fact that it can be made for an easy night in or prepared for a big holiday. Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Easter, or someone’s birthday, you’ll be hard pressed to find guests that ever complain about creamy Mac and Cheese being served! I know that you’ll always find it on my holiday tables.Print
Mac + Cheese
- Yield: 6-8 servings 1x
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups hot whole milk
- Kosher salt and cracked black pepper 1 teaspoon dry mustard, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ pound sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups)
- ½ pound Muenster cheese, shredded (2 cups)
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
In a pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente; drain.
In a heavy saucepan or extra large skillet set over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until the paste cooks and bubbles a bit, about 2 minutes (make sure it doesn’t brown). Add 3 cups of the hot milk and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 more minutes. Stir in the dry mustard and cayenne pepper, and then gradually adding the cheddar and Muenster cheeses, stirring constantly until all of the cheese has melted into the sauce. Stir in the remaining 1 cup milk.
Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and stir to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle the top with the Parmesan cheese and parsley. Serve immediately.