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Mac and cheese

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Picture of mac and cheese
I present to you: my pretty-famous-among-friends-and-family mac & cheese recipe. :D

I've made it for tons of get togethers and holidays - it's normally the one thing that doesn't have any leftovers! This recipe is based on Fannie Farmer's classic baked mac and cheese, but I've edited it quite a bit over the years and found out all sorts of things that you should and shouldn't do.

This instructable will cover making a super easy mac and cheese, how to turn that into a baked mac and cheese, and also how to get the best mac and cheese that you can.

It really is pretty simple to make mac and cheese from scratch - and it tastes so much better than mac and cheese out of a box!
 
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Step 1: Ingredients:

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  • 2 cups whole milk (room temp is best! - set it out a little before you begin)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 pound elbow pasta (dried)
  • 1 pound cheese of choice - go for sharp and/or stinky. I'm using an aged medium cheddar!
  • bread crumbs
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Additional tip/tricks/comments:
  1. I prefer to use whole milk - I've used lower fat milks in the past and it just tastes a little flat. You can even do one cup of milk and one of cream if you're feeling crazy!
  2. This recipe is easily doubled, but I've found that when I double it I don't increase the flour/butter. 4 tablespoons of each still make enough roux to thicken additional milk/cream. :) The additional butter also made it greasy.
  3. Use a high quality cheese - cheese that comes shredded and covered in cornstarch is bad. Velveeta is bad. Blocks of Kraft cheese is acceptable. The more processed the cheese is, the greasier it will get.
  4. Sharp cheese is better! The flavor will be slightly diluted in the roux/milk mix.
  5. You probably won't use the whole pound of pasta, but it's good to cook the whole thing so you get the right sauce/pasta ratio.
  6. You can change up the seasonings as you like! I've just included what I use in mine.

Step 2: Boil the pasta/shred the cheese

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Boil the pasta for the minimum time it reads on the package - you want it al dente and no further. If you boil it to death it'll make the mac and cheese soggy. :) Once it's done, drain it and set it aside.

Shred the cheese using the large side on a box grater or with a food processor. I actually broke my food processor the day before I did this. Shredding the cheese by hand will take a few minutes. Brace yourself. :D

Step 3: Make the roux

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(make sure you have your spices measured out and ready to go or you could burn the roux!)

Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Once it's melted, add in the flour and a few grinds of black pepper. Using a whisk, stir the flour into the butter until it is combined and has no lumps.

Keep mixing this around until it turns a light brown color and smells nutty. :) This will take a few minutes over medium heat and you will want to stir it constantly or it could burn.

Once it's brown and nutty, dump in your spices and stir them around until fragrant. Once they're combined, add the milk!

Step 4: Boil!

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Once the milk is in, turn up the heat a little and stir like a maniac. You want to break up the roux so the mixture is nice and smooth - you'll see lots of clumps at first.

Keep stirring until it comes up to a boil - let it boil for two minutes while stirring constantly. It should get nice and thick during this time - the whisk will begin to leave marks in the sauce as shown in the third picture. :)

Once the two minutes is up, turn down the heat to low and keep stirring until the crazy bubbling stops. At this point, taste it - does it taste like flour? If so, you will want to simmer it a few more minutes. If it tastes good, move on to adding the cheese!

Step 5: Add the cheese!

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You'll want to add the cheese little by little. I normally put in two handfuls at a time.

Mix each batch of cheese in until it's melted and then add more. Make sure to keep the heat on low and keep stirring. :)

Once all the cheese is in, taste the sauce. You can add more salt and pepper at this point, or any other seasonings you like.

Step 6: Add the macaroni!

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Add in half of it at first, and then keep adding until you reach what looks like a good ratio of sauce to macaroni. :D I ended up using 3/4 of the pasta.

Step 7: Now you have mac and cheese!

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Congrats! You're awesome. And probably about to eat a ton of it and then take an accidental nap. :D

But... if you feel the need to go above and beyond and eat the best macaroni and cheese you've ever had, please continue to the next step.

Step 8: How to make baked macaroni and cheese

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Baked macaroni and cheese is the best as far as I'm concerned. The crispy top and edges, the extra melty cheese, the sound it makes when it comes out of the oven.

NOM.

And it's super easy to do.
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F
  2. Fill a 9x9 baking dish with macaroni and cheese
  3. Sprinkle a couple of handfuls of breadcrumbs over the top
  4. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the top is browned and crispy

Step 9: Now you have two types of macaroni and cheese

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And lots of friends.

Step 10: Bonus:

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A video of the macaroni and cheese when it comes out of the oven. Just in case you needed an extra reason to make it:

rober!2 months ago

I've found Julia Child's suggestion "to warm the milk before adding it" to be very useful. If you heat the milk to lukewarm, the sauce will be much smoother and require much less stirring. Much easier!!

chrisdm1 year ago
I made this for dinner for the girls tonight, they loved it! Great recipe!
I make a pasta bake based on mac and cheese. When cooking the pasta add cauliflower pieces, chunks of potato, carrot etc and in the last five mins, broccoli. In a frypan with a little oil, fry up some chopped onion, capsicum (bell pepper), chorizo, and/or bacon. Combine everything and throw it in the casserole dish. Rather than breadcrumbs I like to add EVEN MORE grated cheese, and generous sprinkle of sesame seeds. NOM NOM.
I appreciate the simplicity of this dish... also, the cheeeesiness. Great job, hey, if you like cheeses my enchiladas pack a mean punch.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Bris-Easy-Cheesy-Chicken-Verde-Enchiladas/
I'm 14 and made this for my family today. No leftovers and 4 people eating... Easy to make and delicious! Best version of macaroni cand cheese!
jessyratfink (author)  Liam.great982 years ago
Yayayayay! That's awesome. I'm so happy ya'll liked it. :D
loikkonen2 years ago
This might very well be the best food I have ever tasted. Thanks! :)
For an interesting taste difference, try boiling the macaroni in beer and replace some of your other liquid with beer.
This, my friends, is the right way of thinking!
I'm liking this idea... What style of beer would you recommend?
Personally I'd go with something with a little flavor, definitely not a light beer or a standard lager or pilsner. Maybe something like a wheat yeast beer (hefeweizen), standard wheat (Bell's Oberon) or an amber beer (like Killians).
Alezius2 years ago
quick question : do you rince pasta?

and by the way, nice and clear instructable!!!
jessyratfink (author)  Alezius2 years ago
Nope, I just leave it as is. :D

And thank you!
rsmaudsley2 years ago
Love Mac and Cheese. My wife and I always get the Costco mac and cheese. It's pretty good, and we bake it too. But this looks sooo much better. I think I know what's for dinner tomorrow. :-)
Sounds wonderful! Hope to try it soon. Good instructable! Great photos, entertaining text, clear directions. Keep 'em coming!
on my Thanksgiving menu! Cant wait! Thanks
simayanan2 years ago
I strongly suggest a quick spritz of cooking spray. It makes clean up a breeze.
jessyratfink (author)  simayanan2 years ago
I've never had it stick, but I don't use metal pans for it. I bet you'd need cooking spray then!

There's enough butter and fact from the cheese to keep it sticking to glass or stoneware. :D
Bugsley2 years ago
Posted: http://pinterest.com/pin/312015080403424853/
Thank You. <( :- D)=[
I figured it looked like a darn fine gravy till I seen this cheese go in.!
mediabeing2 years ago
I don't see any white wine in your collection of ingredients. I hope you'll do one where you make the BEST mac and cheese....with wine innit. It really does make a BIG difference.
Yummo this looks delicious
billbillt2 years ago
Wonderful as always!!...
troupddt2 years ago
Ok the video was the deal maker. The sound it made was awesome. I'm going to try this for my wife and kids tonight. I bet they are going to love it just like I know I will. Thanks and keep them comeing please mam.
zhaga troupddt2 years ago
Same for me xD
zhaga2 years ago
hey Jesse, that "I present to you" line with the smiley was so funny xD
i am defiantly making this as soon as i can buy a nice cheese, what one would you recommend the most?
At first I thought that Mac was short for Macintosh and this was a parody of some sort with Windows being the cheese. I'm sad sometimes......
doodlecraft2 years ago
It looks awesome...I just wish I had adorable dishes to prepare it in! :)
taransa2 years ago
I tried making velveeta mac and cheese a few weeks ago and thought it was super icky! I can't wait to try this! Have you used any cheeses other than cheddar?
jessyratfink (author)  taransa2 years ago
Ohhhhhh yeah. All kinds! Emmental, parmesan, gruyere, pepper jack, gouda, manchego - as long as it's strong and/or slightly crumbly it'll work awesome. :D

I've mixed all sorts in one batch, too, it's a great use for all the little bits of cheese you might have left in your fridge.
Sweet! Oh man I feel a strong need for some pepper jack now :D

Thanks!
mikeasaurus2 years ago
Faith in humanity restored after watching the video
Looks amazing, I've been thinking about mac and cheese since I went to a new bar in town for lunch...

Y'know the way mac and cheese is always good and sort of comforting? This was shockingly good, bigger, lighter pasta and less goopy with some unidentifiable flavour that added so much to it.

Any guesses?

mmmmm creamy cheesy pasta is a favorite amongst members of my family, my brother would love this! (so would i by the looks of things )
I can always go for a nice creamy bowl of mac and cheese!
PitStoP2 years ago
Yummmmmmmmmm You're going to have to invite me to one of those get together someday. =)
poofrabbit2 years ago
This looks awesome, the only problem, I need you to come cook it for me. :) Well it was worth a shot!