Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

I have been making macaroni and cheese for my husband for many years now. I have done different recipes, different variations, different seasonings. Finally I have settled on a recipe that satisfies us on an average day. It’s cheesy, and can be popped in the oven for just a few minutes to get a nice crunchy topping while remaining gooey underneath. I wanted to share it because it is such a dependable recipe that I can make at any given hour (yes, I stock pasta and shredded cheese). You don’t need any cream or fancy milk, which is part of the reason I like it.

Crunchy and creamy in one!

You can make this dish in different pots and then pop in a casserole to bake if you want. You can also make it in a dutch oven or other oven-suitable dish like I did. And of course, you can choose to not bake it at all, and just have a creamy version since this recipe is fully cooked even without the oven step.

Directions for Macaroni and Cheese

  • 2.5-3 cups milk (I use 2%, and you can use less milk if you want it a little thicker)
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (any kind, although I prefer a nice cheddar)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter (or alternative–I use Smart Balance)
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • Seasonings (I use about a teaspoon each of ground mustard, chopped onion, garlic powder, ground pepper, and then a pinch of nutmeg, salt, and paprika. Curry also works well if you are into that flavor.)
  • 8 oz pasta (any bite-size kind will work)
  • 1/2 cup or so of bread crumbs (it depends on how big your baking dish is)

Start by bringing your pasta water to a boil. While that starts, get your ingredients ready. I like to make my own breadcrumbs if I have some leftover crusty bread laying around. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

In a separate pot that is big enough to hold the sauce and pasta (a medium saucepan will just barely work, if you stir carefully), melt the butter over medium heat.

Whisk in the flour, then the seasonings. Let the mixture turn slightly brown.

Whisk in the milk, and keep whisking while the milk steams and bubbles, being careful to not let it boil.

Stirring in the milk

Meanwhile, cook your pasta when ready and drain it. Once the milk starts to thicken, you can stir in the cheese gradually.

Small bubbles are ok–it will let the milk thicken, but don’t let it boil.

You can add different cheeses–we added some cheese curds this time for added pockets of creaminess.

Once it is homogeneous, stir in the pasta.

This will thicken more in the oven, or you can choose to let it cook longer on the stove if you don’t want to bake it.

If you like your mac and cheese creamy, stop here and serve! Otherwise…

Either spread in a baking pan, or spread in your pot (this is where a dutch oven works well). You will want to spray or grease down the the sides so that it is easier to clean later.

Sprinkle your bread crumbs over the top evenly, then pop it in the oven.

If you pan can handle it, turn on the broiler, watching it so it doesn’t burn. Otherwise, go on the highest heat you can, checking every few minutes until the top has browned enough for your liking.

After removing from the oven, let it sit for a few minutes to cool and thicken. Trust me, it is much better if it sits for just a few minutes!

I made the mistake of not watching it carefully enough…it still tasted fine, but learn from my mistakes! I also didn’t grease the sides this time…oops.

Directions for Macaroni and Cheese without pictures

  • 2.5-3 cups milk (I use 2%, and you can use less milk if you want it a little thicker)
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (any kind, although I prefer a nice cheddar)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter (or alternative–I use Smart Balance)
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • Seasonings (I use about a teaspoon each of ground mustard, chopped onion, garlic powder, ground pepper, and then a pinch of nutmeg, salt, and paprika. Curry also works well if you are into that flavor.)
  • 8 oz pasta (any bite-size kind will work)
  • 1/2 cup or so of bread crumbs (it depends on how big your baking dish is)

Start by bringing your pasta water to a boil. While that starts, get your ingredients ready. I like to make my own breadcrumbs if I have some leftover crusty bread laying around. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

In a separate pot that is big enough to hold the sauce and pasta (a medium saucepan will just barely work, if you stir carefully), melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, then the seasonings. Let the mixture turn slightly brown.

Whisk in the milk, and keep whisking while the milk steams and bubbles, being careful to not let it boil. Meanwhile, cook your pasta when ready and drain it. Once the milk starts to thicken, you can stir in the cheese gradually. Once it is homogeneous, stir in the pasta.

If you like your mac and cheese creamy, stop here and serve! Otherwise…

Either spread in a baking pan, or spread in your pot (this is where a dutch oven works well). You will want to spray or grease down the the sides so that it is easier to clean later.

Sprinkle your bread crumbs over the top evenly, then pop it in the oven. If you pan can handle it, turn on the broiler, watching it so it doesn’t burn. Otherwise, go on the highest heat you can, checking every few minutes until the top has browned enough for your liking.

After removing from the oven, let it sit for a few minutes to cool and thicken. Trust me, it is much better if it sits for just a few minutes!

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6 thoughts on “Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

  1. Breaking in the oven, I LOVE IT!!! 😀 It’s meant to char on the sides! (I keep telling myself that at least… shhhhh)

    You got some great pics of making the bechamel. Nice work!

  2. Pingback: Tips-y Tuesdays: Leftovers Help | fudgingahead

  3. Pingback: Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese | fudgingahead

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