Winter is definitely the best season for comfort food. It makes people forget that it’s cold outside and they just took off three layers of sweaters when they arrived. So for your next dinner party, instead of trying to wow your guests with a vegan, organic, gluten free dish you just read about online, give the people what they want!
Mac & Cheese is something that more likely than not, you normally make from a box. I’m sorry, but a bag of processed powder sprinkled over some shells with a tablespoon of water is NOT mac & cheese. It’s delicious, but it’s not real food. Recently, I’ve been interning at Murray’s Cheese in their Cheese Caves, needless to say – I’ve been eating a lot of cheese. Recently, and I didn’t know this was possible, we’ve discovered that we had too much cheese and felt like we couldn’t eat it all.
So I decided to use it all at once and make mac and cheese.
This is a great recipe to make for a dinner party. If you want to kick it up a notch, add 6 slices of bacon (cooked, chopped).
Baked Creamy Mac & Cheese
Serving Size: 8
Time: 40 Minutes
Difficulty: The hardest part is sharing!
– a baking dish
– 2 medium sized pots (if you only have one it’s ok, but you will need to reuse the pot, changing the timing of this recipe to an hour)
– a whisk
– a measuring cup
– a cheese grater
– 1 box of pasta, macaroni, shells or bowties
– half a stick of butter + 1 extra slice
– 2 cups shredded cheese (cheddar, swiss, goat – it all works!)
– ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
– 1 tsp mustard powder
– 4 tbs flour
– 2.5 cups whole milk
– ½ cup breadcrumbs
– salt & pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 350. Start the water for your pasta over high heat. Salt it heavily. Add the pasta (the whole box) once it’s boiling. Cook to al dente, about 5 minutes.
Next make your roux. A roux is a mixture of equal parts fat and flour. In your other pot, melt the ½ stick of butter over medium heat. Once it’s melted add the flour, whisking. Continue to whisk until your roux has turned light brown. Add the milk, still whisking. The béchamel should thicken quickly. Yup, you just made a béchamel! Add the mustard powder and red pepper flakes.
Put aside ¼ cup of the shredded cheese. Add the rest to the béchamel, whisking until its completely blended. If your pasta isn’t finished yet, turn the heat under the cheese sauce to low as to not burn the sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
Once your pasta is done, strain it and add it to the cheese sauce, stirring until all of the pasta is coated. Using the extra slice of butter, coat the baking pan. Transfer the mac and cheese to the baking pan. Spread so it’s even. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese and breadcrumbs over the top. Bake for 20 minutes. Serve and enjoy! I served mine with a simple arugula salad dressed with lemon & olive oil.