When I wrote the Mac and Cheese Rules a few years back many of you said “sis, but where is YOUR recipe.” I was still toying around trying to find something that I like. I then found myself relying on recipes of other bloggers that I admire. Their recipes were good, don’t get me wrong, but I was not in love. Plus they involved a lot of cheeses that I could not afford or pronounce. So, this Thanksgiving I decided to simplify my process a bit and create a Simple Mac and Cheese. It will put you in the mind of your grandmother’s sans Velveeta! I enjoyed it enough to share and will likely continue to adjust it as a I make it more.
Simple Mac and Cheese
A simple mac and cheese featuring two
- 8 ounces Smoked Cheddar Cheese I recommend Tillamook Smoked Cheddar. Once shredded this is about 2 cups of cheese.
- 16 ounces Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- 4 ounces Parmigiano Reggiano
- 1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
- 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
- 3 Garlic Cloves Pressed with garlic press
- 1/2 Cup Diced White Onion
- 2 Cups Heavy Cream
- 1 1/2 Cups Whole Milk
- 12 Ounces Elbow Macaroni
Start by shredding your cheeses with a cheese grater or a food processor. (I recommend cubing a bit of the sharp cheddar cheese to be used at the end)
Boil water to cook the elbow macaroni. Be sure to salt the water before adding the macaroni. Set aside when complete.
In a dutch oven or large heavy bottom pot, add in 2 tablespoons of butter, onions and garlic. Continue to cook until fragrant.
Once onions and garlic are fragrant, add in remaining butter and 1/4 cup of flour. Whisk on medium heat until fully combined.
Next add in milk and heavy cream. Bring to a boil and continue to cook until starts to foam and can coat the back of the spoon.
While the milk and cream mixture cooks, add in your seasonings. I use pepper, salt, paprika and ground mustard. Season to taste and add in your preferred seasoning, If you are unsure, stick with salt and pepper!
Once the milk and cream mixture has come to a boil, add in all 8 ounces of the Smoked Cheddar Cheese (2 cups), 2 ounces of Parmigiano Reggiano (1/2 cup). For the regular Sharp Cheddar, set aside about 1 cup of cheese for your topping and a few cubed pieces of cheese. Add in the remainder of the cheese. Stir constantly to ensure it does not stick to the bottom.
Taste the mixture and add in more seasoning if needed. Once fully combined, remove from heat and add in pasta. Be sure to remove all of the excess water from the pasta before combining.
Take cubes of cheddar cheese and stuff in dish to add in a bit of extra cheesiness throughout. Sprinkle remaining cheese, (sharp cheddar and Parmigiano Reggiano) on top.
Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Do not bake too long or the dish will dry out. If you want a browner top consider using your broiler for a few minutes. Allow to cool for about twenty minutes before serving.
- Yes folks you do really need to shred the cheeses for this dish! It is easier to buy the pre-shredded cheese, but those dishes just don’t hit the same!! If you want to speed up the process, use a food processor to shred your cheeses. I did this over Thanksgiving and it was the best thing ever!
- Black folks take great pride in baking their macaroni and cheese. It is one distinction between our versions and other cultures. I think we may have been over baking it though guys and drying it out! So when I say 20-30 minutes in the oven, I REALLY mean it. It should still have some creaminess to it.
- The main reason I put mac and cheese in the oven is for the hard topping you get from the shredded cheese. You can still get this with a quick broil.
- I cut back on the cheeses as well. I know we love the idea of six cheeses and what not but I honestly think after like 2 or 3 it loses its edge. Just my opinion! If I were to add anything else, it would be a gouda, but that is it. I am keeping it simple!
- As for the onion and garlic… this is probably different for most of us including me. When I thought about it, this is how I start EVERY pasta dish so mac and cheese really should be no different. If you can’t get with that no worries! Just add in some garlic and onion powder to get those flavors.
I think those are all of my tips for now! Please let me know what cheeses you love in your mac and cheese in the comments!