It's been a Mac & Cheese kind of month. Lots of snow and chilly temperatures means something warm and comforting
You know my philosophy - homemade always tastes better than the boxed version (plus it’s instantly better for you) and it really doesn’t take any longer, I promise!
The best part is you can adjust it to your own taste. A few easy tricks I use to make the most flavourful sauce is replace some of the milk with chicken or veggie stock, throw whole cloves of garlic or the rind of your parmesan cheese (hot tip: when you get to the end of your parmesan, instead of throwing them out pop them in the freezer and keep for sauces or soups), and add strong cheese so you use less.
And if you like a crispy baked version, check out the notes at the bottom of the recipe.
Macaroni & Cheese
1/2 lb large seashell pasta or elbow macaroni
4 tbsp unsalted butter
4 tbsp all purpose flour
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup whole milk
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp nutmeg (optional)
1/2 cup good aged cheddar cheese
1/4 cup smoked gouda, grueyere or your favourite type of cheese
Optional: add chopped & cooked broccoli, cauliflower or peas to add some texture if you’d like.
Cook the pasta in salted water. If you plan to bake the pasta, cook it to where it’s still slightly crunchy as it will cook more in the oven. Drain and set aside, drizzling with a bit of olive oil to keep them from sticking.
In a large sauce pot, melt the butter in over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until combined. Cook on low for 3-5 minutes until it resembles a thick paste. Slowly add about 1/2 cup broth and whisk until smooth. You don’t want any lumps. Add the remaining broth, milk, garlic, bay leaf and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer sauce for 15-20 minutes or until it’s nice and thick. Add the cheese and stir until melted and smooth.
To serve, toss pasta in the sauce. If it’s too thick, thin out with a little stock or water. You want the sauce to just nicely coat the pasta, not stick to it heavily.
If you want to bake this - I roast half a chopped cauliflower @400* until its browned then add a couple handfuls of panko breadcrumbs, salt & pepper and some fresh parsley. Sprinkle the topping over the pasta and bake at 375* until the topping is nice and brown and the sauce is bubbly, about 15 minutes. Here I would definitely add a little extra water or broth to the sauce because the pasta will soak it up - usually about 1/4 cup.
If you’re looking to up your skills in the kitchen, the next Kitchen Intuition Challenge is starting March 4th. Learn more HERE