For years and years, I reached for an instant brand whenever I was in the mood for this.
Sometimes it was Kraft macaroni and cheese where you mix milk and butter with their powder packet. Other nights, it was sticky stuff that oozed out of a pouch for the Velveeta shells.
Many fond memories behind those meals and at the time, they came in handy.
But, I’ve been making it at home for some time now and my favorite cheese is a block of extra sharp cheddar. Sure, shredding it yourself is more time-consuming, but I’ve gotten used to the routine. (The kind that comes shredded already has a strange consistency I don’t like.)
Gouda and a garlic flavored Monterey Jack is what I had available when I got the urge. Whatever the cheese, half goes into the melting pot with the milk and butter.
The rest tops the oven dish.
I typically use about an 8 ounce package for 2 cups of elbows but today I used one of each. For some reason, I skip the crumb topping that seems standard for macaroni and cheese. So, I’d love to hear your tried and true methods for this.
In the meantime, here’s what I used today:
- 2 Cups small shells (boiled & drained)
- A little less than 1/4 Cup of flour
- 1/4 Cup unsalted butter
- Optional: Minced onion and/or garlic
- 8 oz or more of your favorite cheese (shredded)
- 2 Cups of milk
- salt and pepper
While the pasta is boiling, I melt the butter on low and slowly whisk the flour in. Then, I add the milk and cheese until melted. Sprinkle salt & pepper to taste. Combine the cheese sauce with the drained pasta in your baking pan and top with the remainder. Sometimes I throw in some bacon bits or a dash of paprika.
I set the oven for 350 degrees and the timer for 30 minutes or so until it melts and gets bubbly.
I’ve tried the fancier versions with Gruyère cheese and apple chunks. I think a friend said it was grown up mac and cheese.
Overall I’ve been satisfied with the variations but I still prefer cheddar. If it ain’t broke folks.