Kraft’s macaroni and cheese is for lazies. It isn’t even real cheese. Ew.
I’ve got a recipe for mac and cheese that you can serve as is or baked (like I prefer), and I’m going to get right into it in an effort to mimic the brevity of its cooking process. What the heck did I just write *eye roll* It’s an easy and fairly quick recipe that serves 4-5 hefty portions. You can easily double it to make 8-10 servings (especially if you’d like to have leftovers for lunch/meals the next day or two). Here goes!
3 tablespoons of fat (butter, olive oil, or a mix of the two)
3 tablespoons of flour
2 cups of whole milk
3 cups of cheese, freshly grated (I used a mix of gruyere and medium sharp cheddar)
Salt, 1 teaspoon
Paprika, 1 teaspoon
Cayenne Pepper, to taste
8 ounces of macaroni (or any preferred pasta, preferably something with curls and ridges)
A slice of bread, toasted
Figure it out yourself.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Bring water (enough to submerge all the pasta) to a boil. Add the pasta. Stir every 2 or so minutes and cook al dente (or however you like it). If you’re going to bake the mac and cheese at the end, I think it is okay if you overcook the pasta because it’ll dry up a bit in the oven. Strain and set the pasta aside in a large pot.
Put the butter and/or oil in a medium (like 4qt) saucepan on medium heat. Swirl the pan around as it begins to bubble and fizzle.
Add the flour and begin whisking immediately, making sure there are no lumps. Let it sit for a few seconds; it will begin to “poof” up and rise. Whisk again. Let it poof. Whisk Again. Do this until the mixture is golden brown.
Then steadily pour the milk in while whisking gently. We don’t need hot oil and milk splattering all over your face. Not today. Maybe tomorrow. Stir in the paprika.
Once the milk begins to bubble, lower the heat and begin adding 2 cups of the freshly grated cheese to the saucepan one cup at a time, stirring slowly with the whisk until thoroughly incorporated. You don’t want any lumps or clumps.
Add the salt (to taste). Then stir the cayenne pepper in 1/4 teaspoon increments so that you don’t accidentally overdo it. Turn off the stove.
Pour the cheese sauce into the large pot of pasta and stir carefully with a big wooden spoon/spatula until it’s all mixed up very well. Serve as is OR….
Pour the mac and cheese into a baking dish or cast iron skillet. Shake/Wiggle the pan/skillet so that the mac and cheese settles into the edges pretty evenly.
With your hands, smush the slice of toast into a bowl. Don’t worry about making the crumbs too fine, it’s okay to have a few chunks. It gives the dish a touch of authenticity. Mix the remaining 1 cup of grated cheese into the crumbs. Sprinkle this mixture over top of the mac and cheese pan.
Pop it in the oven for 20-30 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are a beautiful golden brown. When you take the pan/skillet out, lay a sheet of aluminum foil over top to seal in a little bit of the steam so that the cheese on top gets more ooey-gooey.
SERVE! Tabasco, Tapatio, or Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Sauce would complement this baked mac and cheese quite well.