Who doesn’t love a good homemade macaroni and cheese dish? Even the pickiest of eaters indulge in the popular comfort food. It’s one of my picky eater’s favorite. While I’m not completely against using prepackaged occasionally, (everything in moderation right?!?) Fresh is best and I don’t like overdoing the preservatives.
Since my picky eater who is also allergic to almost everything will eat it constantly I wanted a fresh and natural version. Making your own cheese sauce instead of a box isn’t as difficult as you may think. It is pretty easy to make once you get used to the basics of getting the sauce right. It is also cost effective to make in large amounts and package up for later use, and it reheats perfectly.
Back when I first started trying to make homemade mac and cheese I asked a few different people from different backgrounds about their ideal mac-n-cheese recipe. I got all kinds of responses, There is something nostalgic about this childhood staple that people are passionate about. One thing that stood out to me is that most people have a certain type of cheese they must use. Which makes sense because the type of cheese you use will determine the final outcome. Whether you stand by a certain cheese or type of pasta, there are so many delicious ways of making this favorite comfort food.
The hardest part is figuring out which types of cheeses to use and how to get the cheese sauce down. You want a thick enough consistency without the sauce congealing or turning lumpy after it sits. For example mozzarella cheese tends to clump and is stringy which tastes good, but doesn’t appear very appetizing.
After experimenting a few hundred times I have found a tasty combination of cheese, milk and butter. This was a balancing act of choosing which cheese melts the best and gives a well-blended texture with the right amount of milk and butter.
You can use many different kinds of cheese for this, they will just give different results. I also have found that pre-shredded cheese has more of a wax coating to preserve it and it doesn’t melt as well as freshly shredded. So, when I melt cheese I always use a block of cheese and shred it fresh. I find shredding a fresh block of cheese melts the best and gives the best results. The cheeses that I like to use are cheddar, Asiago and Parmesan. You can switch out Parmesan for Asiago, or use both if you like. I like to use a hard cheese that melts well. I haven’t had the best experience melting softer cheeses, they don’t always hold as well in a sauce.
The hardest part for me was getting the cheese sauce down. It’s actually pretty easy, I do mine in 3 easy steps.
- 1. Boil pasta, drain and have ready.
- 2. Rinse the same pot and prepare the cheese sauce.
- 3. Combine the two by pouring the pasta into the prepared sauce and serve
When I make the cheese sauce I start by melting the butter, then add milk. Slowly I add shredded cheese and whisk until creamy.
Macaroni and Cheese
- 1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup Asiago cheese
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 lb cooked pasta
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add 1 lb pasta. Cook pasta until done, drain and set aside.
In the same pot melt butter on medium low heat, add milk. Slowly add shredded cheese and whisk until melted and cheese sauce is creamy. Add salt and taste cheese sauce, you can add more or less cheese until it tastes the way you like.
Once sauce is ready add cooked pasta and mix well.
Using a pasta pot such as VERDUGO GIFT Stainless Pasta Cooker Stock Pot Strainer Lid Set, 8 quart with a strainer helps save time. You can also set aside in Bellemain Micro-perforated Stainless Steel 5-quart Colander-Dishwasher Safe strainer. While pasta is cooling mix a little bit of butter to prevent the noodles from sticking to each other.
Some people like baking their mac-n-cheese, which is just and easy last step. I would suggest placing in the baking dish and topping with additional cheese such as fresh shredded Parmesan. You can even add bread crumbs for a crunchy coating. You can also prepare this ahead of time and place in a baking dish and reheat in oven when needed. I like baking dishes that can be served out of, covered and saved in, and reheated all in one. I use one like the one below.
This comes in handy if you are bringing to a barbecue or gathering, this macaroni and cheese recipe reheats well and is always a crowd pleaser.