We had friends over to eat Tuesday night. John grilled burgers, and I baked the best Mac and Cheese in all the land which hopefully cancelled out the very average pot of beans I served with it. This is my go-to mac and cheese recipe. There’s no need to make any other. You could add lobster like the fancy restaurants do and have a dish people would pay $17 a serving for in Dallas (i.e. Capital Grille). I truly believe that.
There are five kinds of cheese in this dish.
White cheddar, asiago, smoked gruyere, mozzarella, and regular cheddar.
If you consider the wonderland of mac and cheese, this recipe is on the opposite end of the spectrum, far, far away from the neon orange powdery boxed stuff. This one is closer to the creamy deliciousness I remember eating at old-fashioned cafeterias when I was a kid (like the one at Goldsmith’s in Memphis), or even the macaroni and cheese served by the Keiser Elementary School lunch ladies. Our cafeteria food was good!
Did you know there are some people who don’t like cheese? I hear this is true.
I found the recipe on Food.com, and it’s apparently the same recipe as the one sold at Beecher’s Store at Pike’s Place Market in Seattle. I tweaked the ingredients a little but not much.
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups 2% milk
- 14 oz white medium cheddar, grated
- 2 oz mozzarella, grated
- 2 oz smoked gruyere, grated
- 1 oz asiago, grated
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 12 oz large elbow macaroni noodles
- salt for boiling water
- 4 oz medium cheddar, grated
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
- 1/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Set aside.
- In a large skillet, melt butter on medium-low heat. Whisk in flour and continue whisking until a roux forms - about 3 minutes.
- Add milk and continue whisking - about ten minutes.
- Once sauce is smooth and thick, remove from heat. Stir in grated cheese. Add garlic powder and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne. The cayenne really gives the dish a kick. If you don't want spice, reduce the amount or eliminate, but seriously, this is a good flavor addition!
- Cook pasta noodles to al dente stage. Noodles will continue cooking in the oven, so you want them a little firm. Drain. Return to pot. Pour cheese sauce over and combine thoroughly.
- Pour into baking dish, sprinkle with 4 oz cheddar, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (optional), and breadcrumbs (optional).
- Bake uncovered for 30 minutes until edges are brown. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.
If you are organized, you can cook the noodles while you make your cheese sauce. I do mine in separate stages because I know I'll become distracted and mess the whole thing up. There's a lot of whisking involving.
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