Once upon a time, there was a girl who just wanted creamy, cheesy mac and cheese. Not full of spices or fancy things, just plain ol’ gooey mac and cheese that she could make herself. So I developed this recipe and now I share it with you, friends. Because you all deserve this bit of comforting yum in your life. You are so welcome.
This one is the one I make to go along with Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders or Hammy Sammies or Beef Roast Sandwiches. How about Loaded Roast Beef and Bleu Sliders? You should probably check them out! Heck, this would make a PBJ look great. You could also easily add chunks of ham and make it a full meal. Add some bacon or crab if it floats your boat! Pulled pork? Oh good heavens! The possibilities are endless.
Our favorite combinations are a Havarti (2 cups) Cheddar (4 cups) blend with bacon, or smoked Gouda/Cheddar with ham. Also, we’ve grown quite fond of next-day-leftovers pressed flat and fried in refined (no coconut flavor) coconut oil. Crispy on the outside and hot and gooey on the inside. Oh, good heavens…
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This one has become my frenemy. It is why I exercise. I both love and despise it.
And it’s EASY. The only bummer is the tired hand you’ll have from grating all of that cheese. You can, however, use your food processor to grate partially frozen cheese!
Boil your choice of pasta (I love cavatappi ’cause it’s just so fun) in water salted with a teaspoon or so of salt until al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, melt 1/2 c. (1 stick) of butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle in 1/2 c. flour and whisk together for 2-3 minutes to let it cook.
Add in 1 T. salt and up to 1 T. pepper. It’s a lot of spice, but you’ll need it. If you’re not huge pepper fans cut that down a bit, but you need the full amount of salt for this amount of pasta. I use Kosher or sea salt or my new favorite Real Salt. Slowly pour in 4 cups of whole milk (don’t skimp here–in fact you can even use some cream) whisking as you go until smooth. Keep whisking until the sauce comes to a simmer and thickens considerably. Remove from heat.
Grease a 9×13″ dish with butter and add the cooked pasta to the dish.
Over the top of the pasta sprinkle 6 cups freshly shredded Cheddar (I use white or sharp), or any mix of cheese you prefer. Some favorites with Cheddar are Havarti and Gouda.
Pour the beautiful cream sauce over the top of the cheese and pasta and let it sit a couple minutes to begin to melt the cheese.
Then, stir the whole beautiful cheesy goodness together and make the topping.
In a small skillet, melt 2 T. butter over medium heat. Add in 1/2 c. panko bread crumbs. Stir constantly until golden brown. Sprinkle over the pasta and cheese.
Bake in a 325 degree preheated oven for 12-15 minutes.
Hot, cheesy perfection.
Serves approx. 6-8 as a main dish or 10-12 as a side.
THE Mac and Cheese Grocery List:
1 lb. pasta
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. flour
4 c. milk
6 c. sharp or white Cheddar
1 T. salt
1 T. pepper
2. T. butter
1/2 c. panko bread crumbs