The Only Mac and Cheese Recipe You Need
by Erika L
This is the only mac and cheese recipe you need—not that you want, that you need. It doesn’t have exotic ingredients to scare the kids or confuse grandma. This has been a hit with kids who have never had anything but the stuff in the blue cardboard box and with foodsters who want to know the genealogy of every ingredient in the dish they’re eating. You can get all of the ingredients at any store, and in fact, I’ll bet most of them are already somewhere in your kitchen. The cheese sauce is guaranteed to not lump, break, or curdle because there is no cheese sauce. Be aware that this should be served shortly after being taken from the oven, when strings of cheese will still be attached to the mother casserole. This recipe started life as a dish sold by a local specialty deli; I’ve tinkered with it to get it the exact way I like it. This dish has never generated leftovers.
- 1/2 pound medium Cheddar cheese
- 1/2 pound Mozzarella cheese
- 1 lb. elbow macaroni
- 6 Tbsp butter
- 6 Tbsp flour
- 5 c milk
- 2 tsp Tabasco
- 1 tsp Paprika (optional; for color)
1Coarsely grate the cheeses and mix together. Set aside.
2Cook the macaroni according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.
3Meanwhile, in another pan, make a bechamel by melting the butter and adding the flour, then cooking over medium heat for a couple of minutes. Slowly stir or whisk in the milk and the Tabasco, and heat over medium heat till thickened. Trust me on the Tabasco—it adds flavor, not heat.
4Mix the macaroni and the bechamel.
5Take out an ovenproof dish large enough to hold the macaroni and the cheese. Choose a wide, flat dish if you want lots of chewy topping; choose a smaller, deeper dish if you want more gooey guts. You know your guests and kitchen supplies better than I do.
1Layer in half the macaroni/bechamel mixture, top with half the cheese, layer on the other half of the macaroni/bechamel, and finish with the cheese.
2Sprinkle the top evenly with the Paprika, if using. It’ll make the top turn a luscious rusty golden brown.
3Bake at 375 for about an hour. If the top is getting too brown for your liking, cover it with foil. This dish is forgiving and will happily bake at a higher or lower temp for proportionately shorter or longer time.
4You can make this dish and stash it in the fridge a day ahead, maybe longer—I haven’t tried. Allow allow a few extra minutes in the oven.
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