Perfect Macaroni and Cheese
Macaroni and cheese.
Mac and cheese.
Whatever you want to call it, this is comfort food at it’s finest.
And since I’ve been on a food bender since the 3rd week of November, I’m holding strong and continuing to over eat and indulge for another week. No one calls me a quitter. Of course, I’m only partially kidding. I do feel like I’ve been eating a lot of heavier foods that I don’t normally eat on a regular basis but tis the season, right? (Or so I tell my self.)
I seem to make a lot of “make ahead” type dishes for my clients. This casserole is perfect since it’s comforting and super hearty after a big day on the hill. Skiing burns so many calories and my clients aren’t afraid of indulging here and there- a perk to cooking for people on vacation!
There are hundreds of recipes for mac and cheese out there and trust me when I tell you I’ve tried most of them. While I like a pungent cheese or roasted tomatoes or maybe a little bacon in my mac- this is not that recipe. This is recipe for old fashioned, simple macaroni and cheese.
The secret? American cheese.
Don’t be scared- American cheese is simply cheddar or colby that is ground and emulsified with water. Which means when it melts, it wont clump or get grainy. This mac is great as is it can be made up to a day ahead and after baking in the oven for an hour you get a creamy piping hot middle with a top that is golden brown and crunchy.
Beware: this recipe is filling, caloric, heavy and definitely a major comfort food. Consume in small doses! Or eat with no abandon. I won’t tell.
The ultimate in comfort food, this macaroni and cheese is perfect in it’s simplicity. Great make ahead meal too!
- 16 oz box elbow macaroni
- 5 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 1/4 lb american cheese, cubed (20 oz)
- 1 generous teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
- pinch cayenne pepper (or to taste)
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- Heat oven to 350°F degrees.
- Cook macaroni until very al dente so it doesn’t over cook in the oven about 9 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Melt butter in 3-quart saucepan until sizzling; stir in flour. Cook, stirring often, for 3-5 minutes. Add milk; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and thickens (5 to 7 minutes). Reduce heat to low; stir in cheese. Cook until cheese is melted (3 to 5 minutes).
- Add salt, pepper, mustard, and cayenne.
- Add cooked macaroni; mix well.
- Spoon macaroni into an ungreased 9 x 13 baking dish or the like.
- In small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese and melted butter. Top the macaroni evenly with the bread crumb mixture.
- Bake, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes or until heated through.