I LOVE mac and cheese – like in EVERY form – I mean does it get any better than pasta drenched in a cheese sauce! NOPE! I don’t share a lot of classic meals on the blog (more dessert based) but almost all the recipes I DO share are comfort foods. It’s my love language! Feeling bad? let me bake for you! rough day? I’ll make soup! This mac and cheese recipe is SUPER EASY to make and personalize (with other cheeses) and always a huge hit!
Here are some ways to personalize your Mac and Cheese!
First – the pasta – obviously for “mac” you use classic elbow macaroni, but I also love penne and corkscrew pastas for mac and cheese – any pasta that holds lots of sauce is a good one to use for mac and cheese
Second – the sauce – how long you cook your roux, any spices you add and of course the types of cheeses you pick! Here is a video tutorial talking ALL about it! This recipe is the cheeses I like to use (well currently – I like to change it up often too!) – BUT you can mix other cheeses into your rotation for other flavors.
Finally – to bake or not to bake – Personally I like to mix my pasta and sauce and enjoy right away – BUT some people like to pour the pasta and sauce into an oven safe pan and top with more cheese or bread crumbs and bake a bit – but I like my pasta fresher!
The great part about starting with a bechamel sauce (once you add cheese it becomes a mornay sauce) is that it holds together really well and doesn’t separate. You do want to make sure you take the sauce off the heat and let it cool a little before adding the cheese – if it’s too hot the cheese will clump together rather than melt into a smooth sauce. Add the cheese a little at a time, making sure it’s melted before adding more.
- 1/3 C butter
- 1 shallot chopped fine optional
- 1/4 C all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 Tbsp corn starch
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 C heavy whipping cream
- 8 oz Gruyere grated some extra for sprinkling on top
- 6 oz sharp white cheddar grated some extra for sprinkling on top
- 2 ounces Monterey Jack grated
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp chipotle chili powder
- 1/8 tsp garlic powder
- 2 lbs macaroni or other pasta, cooked
Melt the butter and saute the shallot
whisk in the flour and corn starch to a thick paste - this is your Roux, cook on medium low until the color develops - the lighter the color the less flavor but more thickening, the darker the color the more flavor less thickening - I went for a light brown
Add the milk and cream and cook until the sauce comes to a simmer (it's okay if it boils but try to catch it before that) - take off the heat and keep stirring, it will thicken as it cools - about 4 mins - this is your Bechamel sauce
stir in your spices - white pepper, chili powder, garlic powder - not your salt yet
test the temperature with your finger - if it's still burning let cool longer, if it's uncomfortably warm it's perfect - add your cheeses in stages, stirring constantly
Remove from heat and slowly add the cheese, stirring well - this is now a Mornay sauce
Taste the sauce and add salt if it's needed.
Pour over the cooked and drained pasta and Stir
Now you can either cover with breadcrumbs and cheese and bake OR serve immediately - while it's creamy, warm and delicious!
AND today is NATIONAL PASTA DAY! yay!!! Does it get better than pasta? I mean seriously. SO today the Celebrating food bloggers are all sharing new fresh pasta dishes for your enjoyment!
10 new recipes
The perfect White Mac and Cheese – HERE
Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta – Creations by Kara
One Pot Chicken Florentine Pasta – The Baker Upstairs
Simple Italian White Bean and Pasta Soup – Real Mom Kitchen
Lemon Terragon Pasta Salad – Jamie Cooks It Up!
Chicken Enchilada Stuffed Shells – Like Mother Like Daughter
One-Pot Creamy Chicken Pot Pie Noodles – Life Made Simple
Creamy Pumpkin Pasta – Yummy Healthy Easy
Slow Cooker Taco Lasagna – 365 Days of Slow Cooking
Chicken Cordon Bleu Lasagna – Butter With A Side of Bread
More Pasta Recipes from some of my favorite blogs
Slow Cooker Pasta E Fagioli Soup – The Recipe Critic
Tarragon-Dijon Roasted Chicken with Tarragon cream pasta – The Stay At Home Chef
Chicken Enchilada Pasta Salad – The Cookie Rookie
Turkey Tetrazzini – Simply Recipes
Italian Sausage Tortellini Soup – Two Peas and their Pod
Slow Cooker Parmesan Herb Chicken & Orzo – Le Creme De La Crumb
Stuffed Shells Florentine – Diethood
Beef Lo Mein – The Woks of life