I grew up eating boxed macaroni and cheese — it’s easy and quick to make. On Tuesday, I shared how I started cooking at a young age. I started experimenting with the boxed mac and cheese to make it better. I would add whatever cheeses we had on-hand and stir them in with the powder, milk, and cheese. The result was usually tastier than what came straight out of the box.
As I got older, I learned about roux and the power of homemade sauces. I have always loved mac and cheese, but this opened a whole new world of possibilities. I could control the types and amounts of cheeses in order to control the texture and flavor profiles.
In grad school, I started making this dish any time I needed to feed a group or was just in the mood for an easy dinner. It becomes a main course by tossing in some crumbled sausage, hamburger meat, or pieces of chicken or shrimp. You can also add canned tomatoes with chiles for a splash of color and a zip of spiciness.
Now, there is some debate about whether you should bake a mac and cheese. I prefer to leave it unbaked, since it stays gooey. This recipe calls for a quick blast under the broiler to brown the bread crumbs. You could substitute the bread crumbs for a layer of cheese for a different texture all together.
If you prefer the firmer texture of the baked mac and cheese, simply bake in a moderate oven (about 350° F) until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbling around the sides, about 20 minutes.
- Large skillet
- Large pot
- 1 lb. dried macaroni
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 4 to 6 cloves garlic, diced
- 1/2 cup onion, finely diced
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 cups milk
- 2 tsp prepared horseradish
- 1/4 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 1/4 lb. smoked guoda cheese, grated
- 1/4 lb. colby jack cheese, grated
- Seasoned bread crumbs, optional
- Boil elbow macaroni in large pot of salty water until al dente.
- Melt butter over medium heat in large skillet, adding onions and garlic.
- Saute until onions start to brown. Lower heat and sprinkle with flour to create a roux.
- Once the roux darkens to a light golden brown, add milk and prepared horseradish, whisking constantly to prevent lumps.
- Once roux and milk have combined, add cheeses, stirring until completely incorporated. If it turns out too thick, add a little more milk.
- Add al dente pasta to sauce and sprinkle with seasoned bread crumbs.
- Broil until sauce is bubbly and bread crumbs are toasted.