At a very young age, I fell madly and deeply in love with Mac n Cheese. I suppose I can thank Kraft for that, even though we now know that it was less Mac n Cheese and more pasta and yellow dye no 9. I digress.
This mad love affair has only grown stronger. In fact, my husband knows if we go to a restaurant with Mac n Cheese on the menu- it will be ordered. Whether it pairs well with our meal or not- ordered. I simply must know what it tastes like in every single establishment I enter. If you are wondering whether I have a running list of places with the best- the answer is obviously and perhaps I will share, one day. If you are also wondering- yes I eat my children’s Mac n Cheese at restaurants- but so do you stop lying.
It goes without saying that I would have a recipe for it. I have been perfecting it for years. I have tried different cheeses in the past, but found that keeping it simple goes a long way.
Hope you love it!
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 8 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 cups whole milk (eyeball it)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Pinch paprika
- 3 cups grated Cheddar (1 big block plus one small block at the store)
- 2 cups grated Colby/Jack Cheddar (1 big block at the store)
- 1/2 cup fine bread crumbs (maybe more)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 2-quart baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter and set aside.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water. Drain well.
- Melt the remaining 7 tablespoons butter in a heavy 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour, and stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, cook over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, being careful not to let the flour brown. Using a whisk, add the milk in a steady stream and cook, whisking constantly, until thick and smooth, 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the salt, pepper, cayenne, and most of the cups of the cheese (reserve 1/2 cup to add to mix with breadcrumbs to top), and stir well. Add the noodles and stir well. Pour into the prepared dish.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese with the bread crumbs and Essence. Sprinkle evenly over the macaroni and bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 25 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
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