Who doesn’t love a good mac and cheese – right? It’s so yummy and versatile. You can make it as a side dish or add ingredients to it like chicken or broccoli to make a one dish meal. I keep about three different macaroni and cheese recipes in rotation at my house. I switch them up and add or take away ingredients depending on what I’m going for on a particular day. In the recipe below, I’m making my version of the classic mac and cheese. This one is a sure bet if you’re on mac and cheese duty for the big family Thanksgiving or office potluck luncheon.
The key to this mac and cheese is to carefully make your roux and be sure not to burn it. If you don’t cook it enough, it will taste like raw flour. If you over cook it, it will have a scorched taste.
Be sure to click here to see the video tutorial.
Classic Mac and Cheese
When you are cooking your roux for the Béchamel sauce, it should only take 3-5 minutes depending on how high you have your heat. However, it is always BEST to go by the COLOR of your roux, not the time it takes to cook it. It’s done when it reaches a light golden brown color.
8 oz. elbow macaroni
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tbsp all-purpose flour
⅛ tsp salt (optional)
⅛ tsp dry mustard
⅛ tsp black pepper
1/16 tsp nutmeg
⅛ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
2 cups room temperature milk (or 1 cup cream and 1 cup milk)
5 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (or a mix of cheddar cheeses)
Dried parsley for garnish
- Preheat oven to 375˚F.
- Cook pasta according to directions on the package (do not overcook)and drain well and set aside.
- Grate three cups of cheese (I use sharp cheddar, medium cheddar, and colby for this recipe)
- In medium saucepan, melt butter.
- Whisk in flour and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, on medium-low heat, until golden brown. Stir constantly to avoid scorching the flour. Go by the color of the flour – not the clock. If the color is too light, your mac and cheese will have a “raw” flour taste. If color is too brown, then you have scorched the flour and it will have a burnt taste. Take your time with this step.
- Add mustard powder, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. You can also add a couple of dashes of cayenne pepper (optional). Taste your sauce for seasoning.
- Slowly stir in room temperature milk in increments until all of the milk/cream is fully incorporated then cook until mixture is smooth and bubbly, stirring constantly.
- Cook over medium heat until mixture just starts to boil, stirring constantly.
- Turn heat to low and simmer 1 minute until the sauce has thickened, stirring constantly.
- Gradually mix in 2 cups of the shredded cheese and stir until cheese is melted.
- Add pasta; mix well.
- Pour into a casserole dish and top with remaining shredded cheese.
- Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes (depending on how deep your casserole dish is).
- Garnish with dried parley flakes