Recipe inspired by: http://www.kitchentreaty.com/the-best-macaroni-cheese-ever/
Mac and cheese truly is the quintessential comfort food. It’s warm, cheesy, melty, hardy, and a great meal to share with friends. That’s exactly why Miranda and I chose mac and cheese when we decided we wanted to have a bunch of friends over for a chill dinner. But what really makes people go crazy is mac and cheese with a crispy top. The contrast in textures between the top and the inside is such a hit that we decided to double the crispiness and also use the topping as a divider between two layers of pasta and sauce. Of course, all of this crispiness is for naught if it isn’t paired with a silky cheese sauce. And while homemade pasta sauces can be intimidating, this cheese sauce is super straightforward. Lastly, to add a bit of customizability and whimsicality, we prepared a toppings bar for people to choose from to top their individual servings.
- 16 oz macaroni
- 6 tbsps butter
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp paprika, along with extra for dusting
- 5 cups 2% milk
- 24 oz grated cheddar
- Add the butter to a saucepan over medium heat.
- When the butter has melted, add the flour, salt, pepper, and paprika. Stir constantly for 3 minutes.
- Add the milk in a slow and steady stream, continuing to stir. Stir constantly until the sauce thickens, about 12 minutes.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and add 18 oz (4 cups) of the cheese, stirring until melted. Ideally, the sauce is finished about 2 minutes after the pasta, so it doesn’t have to sit.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Prepare the pasta according to the directions on the package.
- Drain the pasta and let it cool.
- Transfer the pasta to a large bowl. Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and fold until evenly coated. Ideally, the sauce is finished about 2 minutes after the pasta, so it doesn’t have to sit.
- Pour half of the pasta/sauce mixture into a 4 qt casserole dish. Cover with 1 cup of cheese and sprinkle with paprika. Add the remaining pasta/sauce mixture. Cover with 1 cup of cheese and sprinkle with paprika.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top starts to crisp just a bit.
Of course, now you can top your mac and cheese however you like. We used sautéed mushrooms, crumbled Cheez-Its, Morningstar Grillers Crumbles, sun-dried tomatoes, and Old Bay Seasoning.
Why this recipe is good for college students: Mac and cheese truly hits the spot, and sometimes it’s the best medicine for the schoolwork side of college. I in fact made this dish to celebrate the end of my hardest academic stretch ever (fingers crossed). Culinarily speaking, this recipe calls for only simple spices and simple dairy. The toppings bar is perfect for college students, as it can be prepared from whatever you have lying around and allows everyone to make their mac and cheese just how they like it.
Why this recipe is good for those who keep Kosher: Mac and cheese is usually made without meat, so it’s not like you’re missing out here. Also, cheddar is one of the easiest cheeses to find kosher.
What I would do differently if I made this recipe again
- The crispiness on top was good, but it definitely could have been better. If I were to make this recipe again, I would add some seasoned bread crumbs to the topping and bake for 5 minutes longer.