Mac and cheese comes in endless variations. That might seem like an exaggeration, but consider the possibilities, from the shape of the pasta to the combination of cheeses. The addition of meats and vegetables adds even more variations while also making it a one-pot meal. There are so many possibilities, but the most popular way to make mac and cheese simply brings together elbow macaroni, bechamel, and cheddar. That’s an Italian noodle, a French sauce, and an English cheese. This unique combination of foods somehow results in a delicious dish, one that has become an enduringly popular and familiar comfort food. The recipe below will tell you how to make a classic mac and cheese.
This recipe can be made entirely on the stove or baked. If you choose the latter route, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Or if you simply want to get the top brown and crunchy, stick it under the broiler for a few minutes.
-half a pound of elbow macaroni
-4 tablespoons or half a stick of butter
-4 tablespoons of flour
-2 cups of warm milk
-salt and other seasonings
-2 or more cups of cheddar cheese
-topping of your choice
1. Cook the pasta. Bring a pot of water to a boil on the stove. Salt the water until it is as salty as the sea. Add the macaroni, bring the water back up to a boil, and cook for as long as the package directs. Drain the pasta and set aside.
2. Make a bechamel, also known as a white sauce. This starts with a roux, which is equal parts fat and flour. First, melt the butter. Then sprinkle in the flour and stir constantly to keep the roux from burning. To turn this paste into a white sauce, pour in the warm milk and keep stirring. Add seasonings of your choice. This could be onion powder, herbs, spices, hot sauce, mustard, or Worcestershire sauce.
3. Add the cheese when the sauce bubbles and thickens, and stir until the cheese is incorporated. Turn off the heat, add the pasta to the pot, and stir to combine. You can serve it now as it is or continue cooking in the oven.
To bake, pour the pasta into a greased casserole dish and top with extra cheese, breadcrumbs, crushed crackers, potato chips, or any other topping of your choice. Pop it in the preheated oven and bake for about 30 minutes.
To broil, stick the casserole dish filled with mac and cheese under the broiler until the top is golden brown.