I just took a big pan of mac n' cheese out of the oven, and i know the post has run it's course with the "challenge" (no i did not enter)..... but it just had me thinking about other's "how to's" and such. Now i love this stuf, but i rarely make it for myself only (this pan is going to a friend), partly because i love it, and will live off it. It usually gets some pretty high praise.... but i thought that making this stuff was pretty standard cooking 101 stuff, and comes easy to me, but who knows, maybe i'm making something unique !! So i'm wondering, and please share, how you make yours !!!
I don't use a recipe for mine per se. My final outcome is usually big enough to feed a small army :)
I use one of the large blocks of medium cheddar (i think it's the 750? not sure...the long flat rectangular size, kind of vague i know !!)...and a full bag of macaroni. I find that medium cheddar has the right consistency and a fair amount of "bite".
I use real butter for the most part to start my white sauce. Again i don't measure, but add enough flour to make a thick paste. One of the first things i ever learned as a young cook was how to make a white sauce from scratch, and it has helped me make cod au gratin, scalloped potatoes etc....very good skill to know I think !!!
Anyway, once i have my base, I add at least a 2% milk, about a litre. If i happen to have cream in the fridge, that goes in for half the sauce (that this is anywhere near low fat is already out the window). I let that bubble away until it's good and thick, whisking here and there. To that mix, i add about 3/4 of the cheddar that i've either chopped or grated until it melts. To this, I usually throw in a couple of tablespoons of minced onion, a bit of bouillion, a few dashes of hot sauce (today i used sriracha), a hearty few goes with the pepper grinder, a few dashes of Old Bay seasoning, and something i never stray from, at LEAST a tablespoon of regular yellow mustard, or sometimes the dijon variety. The mustard brings out the sharp tangy cheddar taste, and helps a little with the color. I do everything to taste.
I mix the above with the cooked macaroni, and into a large lasagna pan it goes. I chop the remaining cheddar, and add to the top. Then i melt a little big of butter, and mix with some form of bread or cracker crumb (today it was panko), and a bit of Old Bay with the crumb. This also goes on top.
I usually bake at about 350 until the cheese is melted and the crumbs are browned.