If you’re vaguely familiar with me or this blog, you probably have come to realize that I enjoy food. Really enjoy it. And usually, the more artery-clogging, the better. Which brings me to macaroni & cheese. A brilliantly unhealthy dish so delicious that the heart attack you are signing yourself up for seems totally worth it.
I make a pretty simple homemade macaroni & cheese from a recipe that my mom gave me several years ago and has long been a favorite of mine since childhood. Now it is often the first thing I make after returning from a holiday or when I’m feeling under the weather. I’ve made it for a lot of my friends and it always seems to be popular and many have requested the recipe. On that note, I figured it would be worth adding to the blog so that I can easily direct people to the recipe whenever they ask.
It’s really nothing special – no fancy cheeses, secret ingredients or excessive prep times (not that I don’t enjoy putting a meal together that takes half the day – I truly do). Just loads of melted cheese that is quite run-of-the-mill. I do actually have a second recipe for mac & cheese that actually is quite fancy and takes a lot longer to put together, but while quite good, I do not believe it is as tasty or satisfying as this simple recipe.
Get this in your kitchen:
- 2 1/2 cups elbow noodles (or whatever you prefer – so long as the pasta has a cavity to hold the molten cheese)
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 3/4 cups whole milk (or slightly more for a creamier sauce – I usually use 2 cups; also don’t use a reduced fat milk – I used to but realized it seriously compromised the creaminess of the cheese sauce, causing it to become a bit dryer)
- 1 small-med white or yellow onion, chopped
- 12 ounces of cheese* (6 oz Monterrey jack, 2 oz pepper jack, 2 oz mild cheddar, 2 oz Velveeta)
- salt & pepper to taste
- 9×9″ or 8×8″ glass casserole dish
Now put it all together:
While cooking the cheese sauce, preheat oven to 350° F/175° C and boil pasta until al dente.
Melt butter in large pan over low heat; add onion, salt & pepper. Add flour, stir a few minutes until mix is smooth and bubbly. Raise heat to med-high and slowly stir in milk, about 1/4 cup at a time; add the next ~1/4c only after the previous 1/4c has fully incorporated.** Bring to boil; boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Lower heat and stir in cheese until melted (I just tear off small chunks of cheese, no need to shred it).
Put al dente pasta and cheese sauce in un-greased casserole dish; stir together. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes, or until edges are slightly browned.
*A couple notes regarding cheeses: avoid sharp cheeses as they will cause the cheese sauce to be less creamy and more dry; avoid mozzarella…I love mozzarella, but in my opinion, it just doesn’t work in this recipe; I personally am not a fan of Velveeta, but I feel it helps with a nice creamy texture and you can’t taste it in the end, anyway; use whatever cheeses you prefer in whatever measurements you prefer (adding up to 12 total ounces) but the above-listed cheeses and measurements are the ones that after many years of testing, I’ve come to feel make the tastiest and creamiest cheese sauce.
**Don’t say I didn’t warn your impatient ass. The cheese sauce will not turn out right if you add the milk too quickly – it may becomes a bit coagulated or chunky and not very creamy.