A very quick and easy fix to a tasty side-dish is mac and cheese. Fancy, designer mac and cheese often costs forty or fifty dollars to prepare when you have so many exotic and expensive cheeses, but they aren’t always the best tasting. This recipe is cheap and tasty.
Easy Mac and Cheese Recipe
For Cooking Macaroni:
- 1 cup elbow macaroni or shell pasta – 100 grams or 3.5 ounces
- 4 cups water or 1 litre + ½ teaspoon salt
For Cheese Sauce:
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 2 cups cold milk or 500 ml cold milk
- ½ teaspoon crushed black pepper or as required
- 1 to 2 pinch grated nutmeg or nutmeg powder
- 1.25 cups shredded cheese – mix of cheddar, mozzarella and gouda cheese or any cheese or 5.3 ounces or 150 grams.
- ⅛ teaspoon salt or as required
For Breadcrumb Mixture:
- 1 teaspoon butter – melted
- ⅓ cup breadcrumbs
- ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon crushed black pepper or as required
- 2 to 3 tablespoons shredded cheese mix of cheddar, mozzarella and gouda cheese
- Cook the elbow pasta as per the instructions on the package till they are al dente. I first heated the water and salt to a vigorous boil and then added the pasta.
- Cook them till they are al dente or just cooked. They should not get too soft or mushy or break.
- Drain them in a colander or strainer.
- Now grease a baking pan with some softened butter. Skip this step if you do not plan to bake the mac n cheese.
Making Breadcrumbs Topping:
- In a microwave safe bowl, melt butter or you can melt the butter in a small pan. Then add the breadcrumbs.
- With a spoon mix the breadrcumbs with the melted butter very well. Keep aside.
Making Cheese Sauce:
Heat butter in a thick bottomed sauce pan on a low flame. Also preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius (390 degrees Fahrenheit).
The butter should heat up well. Then add the all purpose flour.
Using a wired whisk stir the flour quickly as soon as you add it.
Keep on stirring so that no lumps are formed.
- The frequent stirring helps the flour to cook evenly.
- You will see the flour frothing and bubbling up while stirring.
- Saute the flour till you get a nice cooked aroma from the flour and a pale golden color. Don’t brown the flour.
- Keep the flame to the lowest and then pour the milk in a gentle stream. Pour the milk with one hand and stir the sauce mixture with the other. The milk has to be chilled, so that lumps are not formed. If you use hot or warm milk or milk at room temperature, lumps can be formed.
- Do stir frequently while the milk warms and heats up. The sauce would begin to thicken, so do stir often.
- When the sauce has thickened well and coats the back of a spoon, switch off the flame.
- Keep the saucepan down and wait for a minute. Then add the shredded cheese. I used an equal mix of cheddar, gouda and mozzarella cheese. You can also use just cheddar cheese or processed cheese or your favorite cheese.
- Again mix and stir so that the cheese melts.
- The cheese has to melt well in the hot bechamel sauce or white sauce. So now what you have is a cheese sauce.
- Add the crushed black pepper and a pinch or two of grated nutmeg or nutmeg powder. You can also add a bit of mustard powder.
- Add very little salt. About 2 to 3 pinches. Stir again.
- Now add the pasta in the cheese sauce.
- With a spoon stir and mix very well.
- The mac and cheese is done. If you want you can serve it at this step or proceed further to bake it.
- Pour the macaroni and cheese in the prepared baking pan.
- Top evenly with the breadcrumb and the melted butter mixture.
- Now sprinkle the shredded cheese on top.
- Sprinkle some crushed black pepper.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees Celsius (390 degrees Fahrenheit) for 15 to 20 or till cheese melts. Do keep a check while baking as oven temperatures vary.
- Wait for 5 minutes and then serve baked mac and cheese hot.