Saturday, May 25, 2013

Creamy Stovetop Mac and Cheese

On our recent Spring vacation on the Disney Dream, Daniel ate a whole lot of macaroni and cheese. It was classic Disney mac and cheese. (A familiar mac and cheese given the amount of time we've vacationed at Disney through the years.) It's advertised as creamy and boy, is it ever. So creamy that at times it's like eating cheese soup with a bit of macaroni thrown in as an afterthought.

Both of the boys have made it clear over the years that they don't really like my home-made macaroni and cheese. (I don't know why, because it's delicious. But apparently it's not creamy enough.) I'm always on the look-out for a new macaroni and cheese recipe that might wean them off KD, which is the only mac and cheese they'll eat at home. So a mac and cheese recipe advertised as creamy definitely catches my attention since apparently that's what my current recipe lacks - creaminess. I was craving mac and cheese earlier this week when the weather turned a bit chilly, and this was the first recipe I came across that included the word 'creamy' and whose required ingredients I had on hand. I was so hopeful for this recipe. It required zero effort to make and it certainly looked the part (i.e. very, very creamy). And yet, sadly, it was rejected. Only by the boys. I ate it quite happily and had the leftovers for lunch the next day. It's my new go-to stovetop mac and cheese. Despite being dismissed (not for lack of creaminess. This time we claimed an after-taste. I dispute this finding.) I will make this recipe again. I have a feeling that with time, this could be a winner.

Creamy No-Roux Stove Top Macaroni and Cheese

Serves 4 to 6

What You Need

1 pound pasta, any shape
1 1/2 cups whole or 2% milk
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2-3 cups shredded cheese, like cheddar, monterey jack, or colby
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon powdered mustard
Optional extras (cook before adding): Ham, bacon, onions, peas, mushrooms, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower
Pasta pot
Sauce pan


1. Boil the Pasta: Bring about 4 quarts of water to a boil over high heat in the pasta pot. Add the pasta and a tablespoon of salt. Cook until the pasta is al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. Warm the Milk: When the pasta has finished cooking, prepare the cheese sauce. Begin warming 1 cup of the milk in the saucepan over medium heat. Whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup of milk and the flour until there are no lumps. When you just start to see tendrils of steam rising from the warming milk, whisk in the milk-and-flour mixture. Continue whisking gently until the milk thickens slightly to the consistency of heavy cream, 3-4 minutes.
3. Make the Cheese Sauce: Turn the heat to low and begin mixing handfuls of cheese into the milk. Stir in the salt and mustard. Stir until all the cheese has melted and the sauce is creamy. Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired. Remove the sauce from heat.
4. Combine the Pasta and Cheese Sauce: In a large serving bowl, combine the pasta and 1/2 of the cheese sauce. Stir to coat the pasta evenly. Add the second half of the sauce and any extra add-ins.
5. Serving and Storing Leftovers: Serve the mac and cheese immediately while still warm. Leftovers will keep for up to a week and can be reheated in the microwave. If the sauce is a little dry after re-heating, mix in a splash of milk to make it creamy again.

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