Homemade Mac and Cheese

 

Macaroni and cheese is one of my favorite meals. While it may seem silly, I actually am a huge fan of the macaroni and cheese from the box! The somewhat synthetic mac and cheese is pretty tasty if you are in that kind of mood, but nothing can really beat homemade anything, even homemade macaroni and cheese. My grandma would make me homemade macaroni and cheese and nothing could really compare: homemade cheese sauce, toasted breadcrumbs, a side of broccoli. It is seriously one of the best, most homey dinners ever.

Here is what you need to make the best homemade macaroni and cheese—the ingredients are so simple:

  • 1 to 1-1/2 cups of milk
  • 3 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 2 tablespoon of flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon of dry mustard mixed with water
  • Trace of nutmeg (optional)
  • As much cheese as possible, in whatever types you want
  • 1-1/2 cups of elbow macaroni noodles
  • Bread crumbs

Making your own homemade macaroni is pretty much one of the easiest things you could make. Start out by making the white sauce, which will be the base for your cheese sauce. If you already know how to make a white sauce (also known as a roux), then you can skip this next little part, but if you are like me and had no clue what a roux was—much less how to make it—then read on for sure. You need to know how to make a white sauce, not only for homemade macaroni and cheese, but also for many other more advanced recipes.

Start out making your white sauce by melting the butter in a pot, and once the butter is melted a bit, stir in the flour. Mix it thoroughly (without letting the butter or sauce burn). Once the butter and flour are well combined, add the milk and stir immediately. Keep stirring, and add a tablespoon or two more of flour, if needed. You want the consistency to be just shy of the consistency of gravy.

Once your roux is completed, you can add the cheese. It doesn't really matter if the cheese is cubed or grated or even whole, because it will all melt in the end anyway. The cheese will melt quickest, however, if it is grated. Usually, I don't have enough time to grate the cheese (or I just don't want to), so I cut the cheese into smaller chunks or cubes. Put the cheese, in whatever form, into the white sauce and keep stirring until the cheese is completely melted. Also, remember that you can use whatever cheeses you want—American, cheddar, Monterey jack, Colby jack, Swiss, Romano—anything you can afford. Once the cheese is adequately melted, turn the sauce temperature down to low or warm to wait until the noodles are ready.

Cook the noodles by simply pouring them into boiling water and allowing them to cook for about ten or fifteen minutes. Check to see if they are finished by tasting one: if the noodle is soft, then it's ready, and if it is still a little hard, then let it cook for a little longer. While your noodles are cooking, take your breadcrumbs and stir them in with some butter. Then put your breadcrumbs in the toaster and let them toast for a few minutes. Once the noodles are finished cooking, drain them and put them in a greased nine by thirteen pan. Go ahead and pour the cheese sauce on the noodles and top it off with breadcrumbs. Then just put it in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for ten to fifteen minutes or until the dish is brown on the edges and bubbling. Serve as you would any other mac and cheese dish.

You've now just upped the quality of traditional macaroni and cheese and made it a meal instead of a midnight snack! This is a dish your family won't soon forget!

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