This has always been a house favourite. I love how easy it is to make and how versatile it is. The recipe is not an exact science, but I’m working on writing it down better!
What You’ll Need
Pasta. Pick something firmer, elbow macaroni, penne even fusili can work. Milk. I use 2%. You can use 2%-10% and adjust the roux and cheese portion to account for the extra creaminess. Butter, flour and cheese. I used about 3/4C of unsalted butter and 1/2C flour to make the roux. Cheese is the best part! I love using up bits and pieces in our fridge. If you want a mild flavour, use your basic marble or mild cheddar. If you want stronger, old cheddar has that nice, sharp flavour. You can really mix it up with blue, oka, brie whatever flavour you want! I have also used garlic and herb cream cheese and boursin as both melt in fantastically. I especially love adding a bit of garlic and herb cream cheese if I’m making alfredo sauce as it gives it a creamy texture without that cheese flavour. Have fun with the cheese and get creative. Salt, pepper, spices and mustard. I add salt and pepper to just about everything. With this mac and cheese I also added garlic and paprika. Depending on the cheese you choose to use you can pair spices up for added flavour. Cayenne for a kick, cumin for warmer, southern flavour, curry for something different, so many options. Then a quick squeeze of mustard. It just adds a bit extra to the flavour. Use less for a slight oomph to the sauce, or more for a stronger flavour. Then, shredded cheese and breadcrumbs for the top. You can keep the mac n cheese simple, or add veggies, bacon, prosciutto. I’ve even done lobster mac n cheese which was by far the best I’ve made. If adding veggies, dice or grate small and steam. Carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, peas all work well. If picky eaters, you can steam and puree, adding them into the sauce to hide them. You can carmelize onions, sautee peppers, so many variations.
Start with preheating the oven to 400F. Then begin boiling water for the pasta. Then pour milk into a heavy bottomed pot. I used about 4 cups as I was using the base in alfredo for next night’s dinner. Turn the stove onto medium heat to warm the milk. While that’s warming, start on the roux. Melt the butter in a small pot. Once the butter is melted remove from the heat and stir in the flour until it’s thick, but no chunks. I started with equal parts butter and flour but added more butter after taking the picture because the roux was too thick. It needs to be added to the milk to thicken it, so you want a thick consistency without it being completely solid. Whisk the milk as it heats so it doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pot. Once it’s steaming whisk in the roux to thicken. It will get thicker than it first appears, so add slowly and be patient. The cheese will thicken the sauce further so keep that in mind. Once you get your desired consistency, start adding your cheese. Grate it, cut it into pieces, break off chunks, whatever makes you happy and whisk as you add. The cheese will melt, so keep stirring until it’s all combined. Add your spices and mustard and taste. Adjust based on the end flavour you’re looking for. By now the pasta should be ready, so drain that and add to a casserole dish. Add any veggies or protein you would like, then pour the cheese sauce over it all and stir. Add as much sauce as you desire. Less will be a thick, sticky dish, more will be a creamier, saucier dish. Once you have it all stirred together you can add bacon to the top if you like. Then top the pasta with shredded cheese and finally, breadcrumbs. Bake uncovered at 400F until the top is brown and the sides are bubbling with sauce. About 20-30 min max. Then serve and enjoy!