Mac And Cheese

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No matter who you ask, mac and cheese holds some kind of nostalgia for them. For me it was my go-to after school meal when my parents were working late. This dish is one of those cardinal dishes that when done right it’s crowd pleaser and makes everyone happy. If done wrong, you will forever be remembered as that person who brought the wack mac and cheese to the potluck. A few things are key in a good mac and cheese:

  1. The pasta isn’t overcooked. Al-dente pasta is best, where it still has a little bit of a bite to it, because it’ll keep cooking once you mix in the cheese and bake off.

  2. The right ratio of cheese sauce to pasta. I love a creamy and gooey mac and cheese! A mac and cheese that sticks to your spoon is a dry mac and cheese.

  3. The breadcrumb topping adding a nice crunch to the cheesy bite.

  4. The right blend of cheeses! I chose to do mine with a gruyere (adds a nice nutty, funky, salty bite), white cheddar (for some sharpness) and smoked gouda (for a smokey, salty note). However, feel free to play around with what you have to find your perfect mixture.

Mac and Cheese

Serving: 6-8 Cook Time: 30-40 minutes

Ingredients:

For Breadcrumbs

  • 2 tbs butter

  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced

  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme

  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs

  • 1/4 cup gruyere cheese

For Mac and Cheese

  • 1 lb pasta of your choice

  • 4 tbs butter

    1 garlic clove, finely minced

  • Pinch of red pepper flakes

  • 4 tbs flour

  • 4 cups whole milk

  • Nutmeg

  • 2 cups gruyere , shredded

  • 2 cups white cheddar, shredded

  • 2 cups smoked gouda, shredded

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

For breadcrumbs: In a pan over medium heat, melt butter and cook garlic and thyme until fragrant. Add in breadcrumbs, season with salt and pepper, and toast in the pan until golden brown. Set aside and combine with gruyere.

For mac and cheese: Cook pasta in salted water according to package. Drain and set aside. In a sauce pan over medium heat, melt the butter and cook garlic with red pepper flakes until fragrant. Stir frequently, do not allow butter to brown. Add flour and cook for 1 minute, whisking constantly so flour doesn’t burn. While still whisking, slowly add a few tablespoons of the warmed milk at a time until smooth, then add in remaining milk.

Grate nutmeg, season with salt and pepper. Bring milk to a simmer for 2-3 minutes until it milk thickened, whisking every few minutes. Add in cheeses, 1/2 at a time, and whisk until smooth. Taste once again for salt and adjust as needed. Combine the cooked pasta in the cheese sauce until each pasta is well coated.

Pour mac and cheese into a greased oven safe dish. Top with breadcrumbs and bake in a 350 degree oven for 13-15 minutes, until the cheese in breadcrumbs has melted and the top has formed a nice crust.

Notes:

  • If you’re making it ahead, drain the pasta and toss with some olive oil. This will prevent the pasta from clumping before being tossed in the cheese sauce.

  • 2 cups of shredded cheese is about 8oz of blocked cheese.

  • If you’re not a breadcrumb lover, top mac and cheese with more gruyere.

  • When choosing the pasta for your mac, choose one with grooves as it will adhere to the cheese sauce better.