What makes the perfect mac and cheese in your opinion? Good ol’ Kraft right out of the box? Homemade thick and cheesy on the stovetop? Baked with a crispy topping and lots of ingredients inside? I think it’s a bit different for everyone, but let me tell you about my perfect mac and cheese.
I like a thick and creamy perfectly flavorful cheese sauce like my picture above shows. If that sounds good to you, then you will LOVE this recipe too
Note, this is part 1 of 2 recipes; part 2 will be coming later this week. This post shares the base recipe of part 2. Some of you will enjoy the base recipe as it is the perfect pure mac and cheese with no added ingredients such as onions or chicken for example.
Let’s start by cooking your pasta. Make sure you do NOT overcook your pasta. You want a nice bite to your pasta so there is texture to the dish. I always cook it 1 minute less than the box says so there’s a little bite. The pasta will also cook more in the cheese sauce.
Once your pasta is cooked al dente, drain.
Let the pasta sit aside for a few minutes while you prepare the roux.
To make a simple and flavorful roux, start by melting a stick of butter in a medium saucepan.
Whisk in the flour.
Whisk in the salt and pepper. A very important step is to continue stirring for a good 3-4 minutes until roux turns a bit darker in color. It becomes richer and even more fabulous.
Slowly stir in the milk until mixture is thick and creamy. This step will take a couple minutes over medium heat.
Bring on the cheese!
I prefer a finely shredded mild cheddar. It melts quickly and has a perfect “cheddar” flavor.
Time to transfer your cooked pasta back to a large dutch oven or pot.
Pour that fabulous cheese sauce over your noodles.
Doesn’t get much better than this. Stay tuned to see what I added to this mac and cheese, coming later this week!
How to Make the Perfect Mac and Cheese
- 3/4 pound dry small pasta, I used elbow
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 cups milk, I used skim
- 2 cups finely shredded mild cheddar cheese
- Cook pasta according to package directions. I recommend cooking the pasta a minute less than the directions. Drain and set aside for a few minutes.
- To prepare roux, melt butter into a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once melted whisk in flour, salt and pepper. Stir and cook for 3-4 minutes until color of roux gets slightly darker. Slowly whisk in milk, stirring continuously until thickened, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to a simmer and stir in cheese until melted.
- Transfer cooked pasta to large dutch oven or pot over low heat. Pour cheese sauce over top, stirring to combine. This is a thick and creamy sauce. To thin the sauce, add a few tablespoons of milk at a time until at desired consistency.
Makes 6 Servings
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