Homemade Mac and Cheese…(drops mic)

To say that homemade macaroni and cheese is good is like saying the earth is round…or the sky is blue…or that I’m getting wrinkles.

It’s just a fact.

My homemade version is rich, creamy, indulgent…healthy, say whaaaa?  Okay, it’s not steamed broccoli but I have mastered a way to create a lighter version that doesn’t taste light at all.  Some people use heavy cream in their mac and cheese recipe because “why not?”…well my “why not” is as follows… me + summer + beach + swimsuit. 

Let’s go over the ingredients…

1 pound –  tubular pasta…because it’s tubular!
1 stick – butter
1/4 cup – flour
4 cups – 2% milk
12 oz – shredded cheddar cheese
12 oz – Colby jack cheese
1/2 tsp – salt
1/2 tsp – black pepper
1/2 tsp – dried mustard
1/2 tsp – garlic powder
1/4 tsp – ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp – salt (or to taste)
panko bread crumbs

Before we get started we need to talk about some bakeware I just got from my mom, she got me this for Mother’s Day…

The answer is yes, my mom is the best mother on the planet.  I literally had a photo shoot with this thing while my husband stood back and rolled his eyes (he was more interested in getting on with the mac and cheese).

So in your dutch oven (mine is pictured above in case you didn’t get that) start melting your stick of butter.  You can obviously use any heavy bottom pot for this.

You also should get a large pot of salted water going on the stove for the pasta…okay, back to the butter…

Now add your 1/4 cup of flour and start whisking that together over medium low heat, this is called the roux (it makes the sauce thick)…

Keep whisking this together over the heat until everything is mixed together…

And then cook it a little more just to ensure the raw flour taste is gone, it should be golden in color…because it’s gold.

Now it’s time to add the milk, 4 cups…I used 2% but you could also use 1% (or even skim), people can tell me I’m crazy all day long but it’s not the fat in the milk that makes it creamy…it’s that gold stuff we just made.

Now add your ground mustard, pepper, garlic powder, and nutmeg…

If you are completely against nutmeg then leave it out…but if you like nutmeg you will LOVE it in this recipe.

This is a good time to throw your pasta in…you can use any tubular shaped pasta…
Now you have a big soupy mess but just keep whisking this over medium low heat…

oh look…things are happening…

After about 7-8 minutes you will have a nice Béchamel (white sauce).  Now you need to turn off the heat and add your cheese…Grate a block each of cheddar and Colby jack (about 24 oz) and throw that in.

Use your whisk to stir the cheese until it’s completed melted into the sauce…

Now you have to taste it (oh darn!) and add salt to your liking…I used about 1/2 tsp.

Drain and rinse your pasta and put it in with the sauce…I used Pipe Rigate because I think it’s so fun.

And mix that all together…drooling yet?

Now you need to get everything into a buttered 9 X 13 baking dish, I used a rubber spatula to get every last bit of cheese sauce out of the pot…unfortunately I put the spatula in my mouth before the cheese had a chance to make it into the dish…this phenomenon is called cheese sauce hypnosis.

Ok, once you have it in the dish, sprinkle the whole thing with panko (Japanese bread crumbs). Just a little fact, regular big brand bread crumbs (BBBC’s) are usually FULL of chemicals but typically you can find natural panko at any grocery store…or go to Whole Foods…or make your own.  I’s sorry but I just can’t justify covering a made from scratch dish with chemicals and preservatives, ya hear that Progresso!? (please don’t sue me).

Here is your natural bread crumb topped dish of mac and cheese…

And here it is topped with little pieces of heaven (butter)…you can drizzle with olive oil for a healthier option, both methods achieve the same desired effect (golden crunchy top effect that is).

Put it in the oven at 350° F for about 45 minutes to an hour.  I leave it uncovered the whole time but I guess you could stick some foil over it.  During the last few minutes I might turn on the broiler just to get an even crunchier top but make sure you watch it closely.

Here’s your golden crusted macaroni and cheese…

There’s really nothing more to say…or I can’t find the words.  I did take a million photos…

 Even super freakishly close up photos…

…but just look at it!

Okay, that’s the end of my macaroni and cheese story.  Not the lightest dish I’ve ever made but still pretty healthy if you can refrain from eating the whole pan…


The Good Cooker

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