I am a huge fan of all things cheese, so Mac and cheese is a staple on the list of comfort foods.
My kids however, are not a fan of most homemade Mac and cheese recipes. Many oven based recipes – the baking dries them out and they have crispy bits the kids avoid (I love crispy noodles). They just are not creamy enough for kids liking. Some creamy ones are not cheesy flavoured enough and bland. I did a lot of experimenting before kids were convinced enough to eat non boxed Kraft dinner. Honestly – I blame myself for their distinguished tastes.
This a an easy stove top method – trust me with two boys and a puppy I would not make it if it wasn’t easy- no baking required. Super creamy and serves several hungry men. The difference, well no precooked noodles- one pot! The starch helps thicken sauce. Evaporated milk gives the luxury of cream without price tag and makes the dish extra creamy (but milk works well too). Lastly – totally customizable just like the box kind. Use the cheese combo you love. Love mozzarella & Swiss with mushrooms add it, Tex mex with Monterey Jack and a bit of salsa, or keep it simple and create a Mac and cheese bar to let others top it the way they like.
I love this fresh and hot same day, my husband says it tastes even better the next. But I find it looses some of the creamy texture reheated but it does taste good! I have made it up and placed it in crock pot to keep warm for pot lucks. Trust me it the bowl will come back empty!
SUPER CREAMY MAC & CHEESE
- 4 Tablespoons butter
- 3 Tablespoons flour
- 2 can evaporated milk. (Or 2 cups reg milk.)
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard, or ½ teaspoon mustard powder
- ground black pepper, to taste
- salt, to taste
- 2¼ cups water (I like to sub half the amount with chicken broth)
- ½ pound elbow macaroni, uncooked
- 2 cups (½ pound) shredded old cheddar cheese
- ¾ cup (3 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese, (or whatever cheese you like- Parmesan, Swiss, Asiago, even cream cheese etc..)
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently, until the flour is lightly cooked.
- Whisk about half of the milk into the flour mixture (it will become a thick roux very quickly.) Add the remaining milk and whisk until it’s smooth.
- Add the smoked paprika, garlic powder, hot sauce (if using) and yellow mustard or mustard powder, pepper, and salt, and stir to combine.
- Add the elbow macaroni and water (or broth if using) and stir occasionally until the mixture comes to a simmer. Cook the pasta at a simmer, stirring often, for 8-11 minutes or until the sauce thickens and the macaroni is just cooked (al dente). The sauce will still be somewhat thin at this stage.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the cheeses. The sauce will thicken considerably at this point. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
This macaroni is cooked directly in the milk/water mixture. The amount of liquid needed can vary based on the type of pasta and even varies from brand to brand. Add more water, ¼ cup at a time, if needed until the noodles are tender.
Before you add the cheese in, you will want to make sure there is some liquid in the bottom of the pot before you add the cheese as this is what creates the sauce.If the sauce is too thick, a little bit of warm milk or cream can be added.