Macaroni & Cheese

April 20, 2010

Homemade Mac & Cheese only takes an extra 5 minutes of work. So why would anyone ever make it from a box? My recipe (below) is similar to Chris Kimball’s, except he uses more milk. While I love the extra flavor that comes with toasting in the broiler with homemade breadcrumbs, my 11-year-old son Matthew complains about the crust.

100 times better, only 5 minutes more work.

Because my boys love this so much, I stock up on cheese when it’s under $1 per 8-oz bar (this week it’s $.88 at ShopRite). Also to save time, I shred enough cheese using my food processor for 2 or 3 batches, then store the extra cheese in zip lock bags in the freezer.

So, not only do the kids consider this a 5-star meal (I only give it 4-stars), I can make 5-1/2 lb of Mac & Cheese for just $3. Enough for 2 dinners, and the boys even love it the next day when reheated in the microwave. But most importantly, it tastes great and doesn’t have any chemicals like Kraft.

My Recipe:

1 teaspoon salt (plus 1 teaspoon for water)
16-oz elbow macaroni
5 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon powdered mustard
3 3/4 cups milk
8-oz (2 cups) Monterey Jack, grated
8-oz (2 cups) Sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
2 tablespoons homemade bread crumbs (if baking)

  • Bring 2 quarts water to a rolling boil (10 mins). Add 1 teaspoon of the salt, macaroni; and stir.
  • Grate cheese. Adjust oven rack to the upper-middle position and pre-heat the broiler (low).
  • Cook until tender (see box and use longest time), stirring every few minutes. Drain, and set aside.
  • Heat the butter over medium-high heat until foaming.
  • Mix in the flour, salt and mustard into butter. Stir in milk.
  • Cook over high heat for 5 minute until reaches a strong boil, whisking occasionally, but stirring¬† constantly for last 2 minutes,
  • Off the heat, mix in the cheeses until fully melted. Add back macaroni and mix.
  • For a light crust, transfer the mixture to a Pyrex dish. Sprinkle homemade bread crumbs by hand. (or Parmesano with a little olive oil for better browning).
  • Broil on high for 3 minutes until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes, then serve.

Rating: 4-star.
Cost: $3. (makes 5-1/2 lbs)
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Low.
Started: 6:30 pm. Dinner Time:  6:55.

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