Foodstuff: Easy Homemade Mac and Cheese Recipe
Food overload and the New Year’s fridge cleanout
You know that joke that floats around the internet every year during the holidays, saying something along the lines of “Everyone wanders around during the week between Christmas and New Year’s, confused about what day it is, and full of cheese”? Besides being hilarious, it makes me feel extremely, um, seen.
After hosting both my family pre-Christmas and a casual Christmas Day après for friends this year, I had a lot of bits and bobs in the fridge and the desire to cook something easy and comforting during the cold, gray last days of 2022.
Enter macaroni and cheese.
I consider myself something of a mac and cheese connoisseur, having eaten approximately 17 million pounds of it throughout the course of my life. I like it any which way — from elaborately homemade with gourmet cheeses to that blue box, which is perpetually in my cupboard.
This recipe allows for you to enjoy both the creamy, decadent pasta and sauce, and throw in any leftovers you might have from hosting (great for me, as I have a well-documented hatred of food waste).
2T all-purpose flour
1 ½C whole milk
1-2C grated cheese (reserving 1/3C)*
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated nutmeg to taste (optional)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
This meal serves four people.
Combine flour and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat to make a roux, whisking until the flour is lightly golden and cooked through. Add milk slowly in small batches, making a bechamel. Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg, if using.
While the bechamel sauce comes together, cook pasta according to package directions for al dente, or subtract about two minutes from the suggested cooking time.
Turn heat off, add cheese** and cooked pasta to saucepan, and toss to coat.*** Pour pasta into a 9×9 glass baking dish, top with reserved cheese, and bake in the oven until cheese is browned and bubbly, about 10-12 minutes. Let cool at least five minutes before serving.
*I use any combination of cheeses here but suggest at least two different types for the most flavorful sauce. This year, I had chunks of sharp cheddar, Manchego, gruyere, drunken goat, and an alpine snacking cheese, so used all five!
**You could also add any leftover vegetables here if you like. I happened to have some good stuff on hand this year. I threw in chopped artichoke hearts, cooked baby spinach, cooked sliced mushrooms, and coarsely-chopped roasted asparagus.
***You could serve the pasta at this point, but sometimes it’s nice to bake with extra cheese on top. Make sure you pre-cook the pasta little longer if you’re planning to serve it without baking.
Hopefully, this recipe helps gently ease you back into the routine after a week or two (or 52) of decadence. At the very least, it’s a nice way to enjoy those comfort foods before the resolutions really start to kick into high gear. Here’s to a happy, healthy, and cheesy (in the best way possible) 2023!
Katherine Roberts is a midvalley-based writer and marketing professional who isn’t big on resolutions, but, even if she were, you’d have to pry macaroni and cheese from her cold, dead hands. She can be reached via her marketing and communications firm, Carington Creative, at email@example.com.