I’ve tried many mac ‘n cheese recipes in my time. Back in the day we used to live off the boxed stuff but I stopped buying them long ago. Which meant that we stopped having mac and cheese all together because none of them ever held up to our expectations. They never seemed as creamy or as flavourful as the stuff from the store.
I’m happy to say I’ve finally found our perfect recipe (obviously because I’m sharing it!). It’s super creamy, cheesy and flavourful, and as a bonus it’s very easy to throw together. It would make a great side for any ham you have leftover from Easter. Or, make it a one dish by throwing in some diced ham and veggies. We also love it alongside barbecued chicken drumsticks (or really any barbecued meat) with a hefty serving of veggies alongside. Barbecue season is coming up quick and I think this is a great side to have in your back pocket. It’s a definite crowd pleaser.
One time I accidentally browned the butter for the roux and it added an extra depth of flavour that we loved. Now I brown the butter purposely to add that extra nutty and rich flavour, but it’s definitely not a necessity if you prefer to skip that step.
Creamy Baked Mac & Cheese
I’ve had great success making this gluten free by substituting gluten-free brown rice pasta and gluten-free all purpose flour, so feel free to experiment with this recipe if gluten is an issue for you.
- 2.5 cups elbow macaroni
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups cheddar cheese, divided
Cook macaroni in a medium-sized pot, according to package directions, until tender but firm (al dente). Drain and set aside. In the same pot melt the butter over medium heat (allow it to brown if desired). Add flour; cook and stir for one minute. Stir in salt, pepper and mustard. Slowly stir in milk, a bit at a time, whisking between each addition to avoid lumps. Bring to a boil, cook until thickened, stirring often. Remove from heat and stir in 1.5 cups cheese. Add macaroni, stirring to evenly coat. Pour into a 2 quart casserole dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake at 375ºF for 20 minutes or until filling is bubbly and cheese is browned. Allow to cool 5-10 minutes before serving.
Makes: 6 servings (as a side dish)