You know it.....you know it well. Baked. Bubbling. Oozing with cheddar cheese. Super low-fat. Zero Weight Watchers points.
This is a recipe that has been in my repertoire for years. It's my Momma's baked mac and cheese. For many, mac and cheese is a side dish. For me and my family, it's always been a main dish. Ask me what I want for my birthday dinner? Momma's mac and cheese. When I was in college- this was all I ever wanted when I came home for breaks. I've always been somewhat of a mac and cheese connoisseur. No really, I will order a pasta dish at a restaurant with a side of mac and cheese- just so I can go home and add it to my mac and cheese tasting notes diary (that's a joke, but a pretty good idea now that I mention it). So many people have asked me for the recipe so I finally got around to taking some photos of it. Go buy a slab of cheddar and enjoy yourself.
- 1 lb. of pasta- shells really capture the cheese, but anything will do
- 6 tablespoons of flour
- 1 stick of salted butter
- 2 tablespoons ground/powdered mustard
- 6 cups of milk (1 half gallon)
- 24 oz.-32 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (I always buy a block and shred it myself- it's better than the pre-shredded and must cheaper!) I get this big 32 oz. block and use it which they have at my grocery store- but two 12 oz. blocks work too.
- 2 tsp. kosher salt & pepper
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- 3 tablespoons of butter
Cook pasta al dente in salted, boiling water. Drain, rinse with cold water and set aside.
If possible, microwave the milk before you start the next steps. Just to warm it up a little bit. I have an 8 cup glass Pyrex measuring bowl that I microwave the milk in for 4-5 minutes. This was something my momma taught me because it saves you the hassle of heating up all of the milk in the saucepan and the risk of burning the bottom of the pot. If you start with cold milk it will take a long time to warm it and create the sauce.
Make a roux. Melt the stick of butter in a saucepan. Whisk in flour and mustard and let it thicken (2-3 minutes). Don't overcook the roux!! Keep whisking and watch it carefully.
Add the warm milk and continue to whisk on medium until thickened and bubbly. This may take 8-10 minutes (if you microwaved the milk).
Once the sauce is thick and bubbly, add your salt and pepper then mix in the shredded cheddar. Remove the sauce from the heat. Combine the cooked pasta and the cheese sauce in a buttered 2-quart casserole dish.
To make the topping:
Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a pan. Add breadcrumbs until coated in butter (1-2 minutes). Sprinkle on top of the mac and cheese before baking!
Bake the casserole at 350 degree for 30-45 minutes or until browned and bubbly.
*If you make too much sauce, boil more pasta and make a smaller casserole (I always make a little one and freeze it!) It really depends on how thick you let your sauce get and how cheesy you want your casserole to be!