October 3, 2011

Creamy Mac & Cheese

I love fall because it gives me an excuse to make this mac & cheese every week. I love it. It is also an awesome Meatless Monday recipe. I shamelessly stole the original recipe from Paula Deen, but I have made this one many times and after lots of tweaks it has become a completely different thing.

Look. At. That.
The big difference between my recipe and Paula's is that mine is baked. I tried it a number of times in the slow cooker, but it's just not the same. I really prefer the baked top with the breadcrumbs.

Creamy Mac and Cheese

What You'll Need:

1 box pasta, preferably rotini
1 10oz block of sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 of a 10oz block medium cheddar cheese, or colby jack, grated
1 can cheddar cheese soup
2 cups milk
1/2 stick butter
1 tsp dry mustard (or two tsp liquid mustard)
1/2 tsp salt
dash of pepper to taste
breadcrumbs of your choice (plain, Italian, panko)

The Process:

Turn your oven to 350 degrees. Boil up some salted water and cook your pasta according to the directions on the box. Drain. To make the sauce, put a pot on medium heat and mix together the soup, milk, butter, mustard, salt, and pepper. Heat until thoroughly mixed and warm. Be careful not to overheat, or it will curdle. Once it is hot, turn off the heat and mix in your grated cheese until well melted.

Save yourself a lot of grief and do not buy pre-grated cheese. They use an anti-caking agent in them to keep them from clumping and it makes it very difficult to melt the cheese. Grating the cheese yourself doesn't take too long, and the results are dramatically better.

Once the cheese mixture is done, break out your favorite large oven-safe dish and pour your pasta into it. Then, pour the cheese mixture overtop of it. I usually don't need to mix it, but feel free to if you don't think you've gotten even coverage. Sprinkle your breadcrumbs over top and pop into the oven uncovered. Bake that cheesy goodness for 30 minutes until bubbly and the crumb topping is golden brown. Try to distract yourself from the delicious smell that will be coming out of your oven, or you'll want to eat it before it's ready.

There's even leftovers for later!
This recipe makes quite a bit, so I have plenty leftover for later. You can keep it covered in the refrigerator and then reheat it in the oven when you are ready for more cheesy delight. I like to steam some fresh broccoli to serve along side the mac, since it is a very rich dish. However, you could also cut some broccoli up into small pieces and mix it in with the pasta and sauce before baking. I won't question why broccoli is so delicious with mac and cheese, I will just enjoy.

I promise I will get better at taking photos. I think once I get a new battery and charger for my DSLR, the photo quality will drastically improve. I do actually have photography training, even if it hasn't shown through on the photos from my phone camera.

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