I confess, I used to be a boxed macaroni and cheese person. As a teenager, I worked front desk at a local hotel. An older lady there made the best baked macaroni and cheese. While at the time I diddn’t have my heart set on re-creating the dish, it managed to stick with me for a decade. My mom always made homemade macaroni and cheese, but it wasn’t a cheese sauce. It was elbows, butter, and lots of cheddar cheese layered and baked. Still delicious, but there’s something about a gooey, cheesy sauce that really captured my heart.
Fast forward 10 years, I decided to try to find a recipe that I would consider “a keeper” for baked macaroni and cheese. I tried several recipes I’d found on the internet that looked good, but none really resonated with me. Then, I decided to give the recipe off the side of the elbow macaroni box a shot. Low and behold, I fell in love. I’ve changed it some over the years, but I’m glad I gave that “side of the box” recipe a shot. You never know! Feel free to top with a seasoned breadcrumb if you like, but I think that’s more of a “Yankee” thing, and just not the way I was raised. I like my macaroni and cheese soft and creamy. But, I have done it that way before…and it was delicious. Enjoy!
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
2 cups elbow macaroni
4 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. dry mustard powder
2 cups milk
8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Preaheat oven to 350.
Fill a large saucepan with water, and bring to a rolling boil. Add about a tbsp of salt to the water. Add the pasta, and cook in the boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain pasta, cover with a damp kitchen towel, and set aside.
In the same saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour, and whisk constantly for about 3 minutes…until the flour mixture is a light amber in color. Add in the mustard powder. Slowly whisk in the milk, and continue to whisk for about 5 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Remove from heat and add the shredded cheddar cheese, whisking until cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the pasta back into the saucepan with the cheese sauce and stir to coat.
Place macaroni and cheese to a medium sized baking dish. I usually use an 8X8 or a Corningware dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes, until bubbling around the edges.
Source: Adapted from a Mueller’s pasta recipe.