Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Baked Mac and Cheese

This is a simple recipe.  Probably most everyone has a recipe for mac and cheese that they love.  This is mine.  Well, it's the one my mom used to make when I was growing up and it's the one I still make to this day.  I've tried jazzing it up different ways but honestly, I love it simple.  The only thing that I have changed is that I have added some gruyere cheese.  It gives the mac and cheese such a great kick!
My kids beg me to make this every week and one pan is barely enough for our growing family!  The other night was our only night last week that did not include baseball practice or baseball games, so I cooked for my family and enjoyed our night at home together.

Baked Mac and Cheese {family recipe}

INGREDIENTS: {serves 4-6 as main dish, 6-8 as side dish}

  • 1-lb. box small pasta {I used shells, but I've used everything from elbow to penne}
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 2 Cups milk, warmed
  • 3 1/2 Cups sharp cheddar, shredded {try not to use pre-shredded cheese}
  • 1/2 Cup gruyere cheese, shredded
  • salt and pepper to taste
 Grease a 9 by 13 baking dish and set aside.  Heat oven to 350 degrees.
 Heat a large pot of water to boiling.  Once the water has come to a boil, season with salt and add pasta. Be sure to under-cook the pasta by 1-2 minutes because it will continue to cook when it's baking.  When pasta is cooked, drain and lightly rinse.  Pour pasta into greased baking dish and set aside.  
To make the sauce, heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  When butter has melted and become bubbly, add the flour and whisk constantly for 1 minute.  Slowly pour in a little milk and continue to whisk, breaking up the flour mixture.  Keep pouring the milk slowly and whisking constantly until there are no more lumps.  Heat this mixture for about 5 minutes, or until sauce begins to thicken and coats the back of a wooden spoon.  Do not let it come to a boil!  Turn heat to low and add about 3 1/2 cups of cheese.  Stir with a spoon until the cheese has melted.  Taste, then season with salt and pepper to taste.  
Pour the sauce over the pasta and stir completely.  Now at this point you can cover with foil and put in the refrigerator to bake at a later time.  Or if you'd like to bake immediately, sprinkle with the remaining half cup of cheese and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden and bubbly.  

cheese, milk, and butter...what more do you need?

shredded cheddar and some shredded gruyere

this is the part where I have to resist taking a big bite...

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