I think just about every household has a recipe for macaroni & cheese. Some people still prefer the little blue box, one in which I was not raised eating, but no judging. While others, make it from scratch in a variety of ways. The ingredients in most recipes are very similar, but it’s the technique that can really set your macaroni and cheese apart from all the rest. I like my mac and cheese super creamy, and then topped with an additional layer of cheese for the cheesiest experience on the planet. As long as I’m going there, I’m really going there, and want to enjoy each and every bite.
I prefer to make my macaroni and cheese on the stovetop, and then, pour it into a buttered casserole dish and then top it with another layer of cheese, and bake it until bubbling brown. Medium cheddar is always the largest portion of my cheese blend because I like the acidic balance in it better than, sharp or mild cheddar. Then, to make it spicy, but not burning hot, I go with a spicy colby-jack, or straight pepper jack because the bits of peppers create the right amount of heat that’s really worth noticing. You can get as fancy as you want in the cheese category, but I find Boar’s Head and Tillamook do a pretty great job.
As far as pasta, elbow or cavatappi really grab and hold on to the sauce, something you should always strive for in a good macaroni and cheese recipe. I don’t add breadcrumbs or crackers to top off my dish because I don’t want anything or anyone getting in the way of my cheesy pasta recipe. A good hot sauce and some dry mustard are the other candidates that bring this party together to form one tasty meal.
1 pound cavatappi or elbow pasta
4 tablespoons butter + more for dish
1/2 white onion, diced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 heaping teaspoons dry mustard
2 cups low-fat milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 cups shredded medium cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup shredded spicy colby-jack or jack
2 tablespoons hot sauce, any variety
salt & pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Boil pasta for 9 minutes, drain. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish and set aside.
- In a large saucepan, add butter and onion and place over medium heat. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add flour and stir. Cook for 1 minute and add dry mustard, stir. Add milk and whisk until smooth, and thickened, about 4 minutes. Add cream and stir.
- Add 3 cups of medium cheddar and 2/3 cup of spicy colby-jack, whisk until combined. Add cooked pasta, stir. Turn off heat and add hot sauce, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, stir.
- Pour creamy macaroni and cheese into prepared dish and top with remaining cheeses. Bake in oven for 20 minutes, then remove and let rest 6 minutes before serving. * You can save in refrigerator and bake at another time, just increase baking time by another 20 minutes. Enjoy!