mac and cheese

August 20th, 2008


Growing up I practically lived on macaroni and cheese. It was one of a handful of foods I actually liked, but then to make matters worse, I only liked the stuff that came in a box. When my mom tried to lure me away with the homemade variety, I’d just turn up my nose and whine about how mushy it was. What a silly child I was.

Now I’ve done a 180. Awhile back ago I was craving the boxed stuff and made it at home. The thing was, I didn’t like it. Nothing about it had changed, it was that my tastebuds had done some growing up. I must say I was a little disappointed, but then when I thought about it a little more, it was exciting to think my palette maturing. Sure it’s a decade late, but hey, I guess I’m a late bloomer. Just because I’m not into the boxed stuff anymore doesn’t mean I don’t still get a craving for some cheesy goodness every now and then.

I picked up a few cheeses from Cato Corner and brought them home to search for the perfect recipe. I found this one that called for panko crumbs over top and it sounded like just the right thing. I divided the recipe in half because the last thing I need is 20 servings of mac and cheese sitting around the house. I kind of loosely followed the recipe by using 3 different cheeses, a gouda style, a manchego and a cheddar, and a different kind of pasta called Cavatappi, which is kind of like a cross between spiral and elbow. The cheese combination made for a delightfully smooth flavor that was cheesy without being overwhelming and the pasta kept a nice firmness yet still grabbed onto the sauce well. And I have to say, I’ve never totally understood the whole breadcrumbs over macaroni thing, but the panko crumbs won me over. They added a perfect, golden crunch to contrast the creamy and rich interior.

Next time you need a little comfort, reach for this recipe to give you a little love.

Homemade Macaroni and Cheese
adapted from this recipe from epicurious

makes a hefty 9×9 pan

For topping
1/4 stick unsalted butter
1 cup panko (coarse Japanese bread crumbs)
1/4 pound coarsely grated Cheddar (1 1/2 cups)
For macaroni and sauce
1/2 stick unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups 2% milk
3 cups gouda cheese, shredded
1 cup manchego
1/2 cup cheddar
1/2 pound cavatappi pasta (or spiral or elbow)
Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle.

1: Topping
Melt butter, then stir together with panko and topping cheeses in a bowl until combined well, set aside.
2: Make sauce:
Melt butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat and stir in flour.
Cook roux, stirring, 3 minutes, then whisk in milk. Bring sauce to a boil, whisking constantly, then simmer, whisking occasionally, 3 minutes.
Stir in cheeses, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper until smooth. Remove from heat.
5: Make Macaroni:
Cook macaroni in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (2 tablespoons salt for 4 quarts water) until al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking water and drain macaroni in a colander. Stir together macaroni, reserved cooking water, and sauce in a large bowl.
Transfer to 9×9 baking dish.
Sprinkle topping evenly over macaroni and bake until golden and bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes.

Comments: 9 Total

  1. Tim

    August 21, 2008 at 6:01 am

    I’m not normally a fan of breadcrumbs on top either, but I’d be willing to make an exception in this case :)

  2. Deborah

    August 21, 2008 at 9:46 am

    The last time I made mac and cheese, I used Panko as well, and I loved it! This version sounds delicious!

  3. lisa

    August 21, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    That looks deliciously creamy! And, gouda, manchego, and cheddar sounds like a great combination.

  4. Pingback: All Over the Palate | Eat It, Atlanta

    August 25, 2008 at 10:13 am
  5. Pingback: ChapterZero » Blog Archive » Successful culinary experiments

    September 30, 2008 at 2:10 am
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    March 11, 2010 at 5:30 pm

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    April 6, 2010 at 9:03 pm

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  8. Petra Winkel

    May 6, 2010 at 9:21 am

    It is always nice to uncover additional tips for recipes and also easy to understand ways to make them. I put together this recipe for our supper last weekend. All the family enjoyed it, for certain I will be cooking it on a regular basis now.

  9. Ruth

    August 2, 2014 at 9:44 am

    Hi Kelly, I’ve been eyeing off this recipe ever since I first discovered your blog a couple of years ago. However, I didn’t make it until now because my boyfriend is lactose intolerant so I don’t get to make this kind of stuff much! But now he’s on holiday on his own so I finally took the opportunity to try it. And it is AWESOME! This has been building up for a while and it’s everything I dreamed of.. So thanks!! No more microwave Easy Mac for me! :)

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