Sometimes recipes rush their way onto this site because I'm excited about them and just can't wait to share them. Other recipes get posted because they are old favorites that I love and make sure to photograph sometime when I've made them. Then there are recipes like this one - dishes that I'm excited about but just need to tweak a little. And a little more. And a little more. Finally it gets to the point where they are perfect to me and my husband's tastes but I've almost forgotten that I haven't posted them yet. I make them so often that I figure I'll take photos the next time around.
This macaroni and cheese dish started out with a trip to Noodles & Co. My husband loves the mac and cheese there, and when he let me try a bite I realized why. It's deliciously cheesy, but not overly so. You can taste the cheddar and monterey jack cheeses but it doesn't feel greasy at all, and the texture is just thick enough. Halfway through eating his bowl, my husband told me I should figure out how to make mac and cheese just like Noodles.
That was six months ago.
It took a while to get a recipe we both liked. I started out by making mac and cheese recipes from my usual favorite recipes sources, but they just weren't right. One was so cheesy it tasted like you were eating straight cheddar. Another had too many odd flavorings in it. Another tasted like evaporated milk. I tried a copycat recipe that didn't do the job, either. Eventually I started taking out things that didn't seem to belong. Mustard powder? Gone. Cayenne? Out. Hot Sauce? Not sure why you were there in the first place. Finally it came down to seven ingredients and the winning recipe. It was simple, it was cheesy, and it was easy. It was just thick enough, and had just enough cheese flavor. And I could make it in same amount of time that I can make the box version. A win all around.
Simple Stovetop Mac and Cheese
14 oz elbow pasta
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
1/4 tsp salt
4 oz shredded Monterey Jack cheese
4 oz shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese (I use Cabot extra sharp white cheddar. If you use a mild cheddar you might need to add more to get the same taste.)
Shredded cheddar (optional)
1. In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions.
2. While water is coming to a boil, in a medium sauce pan over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour and whisk together. Cook for 1 minute. Slowly (very slowly at first so that you don't get lumps) add milk, whisking well after each addition until the milk is incorporated. Cook and stir mixture until it thickens, about 4-5 minutes.
3. Remove milk mixture from heat and stir in cheeses until melted.
4. Drain pasta and toss with cheese sauce. Season to taste with additional salt, if needed. Serve with additional cheddar cheese on top. (If desired; Sauce with be slightly thin at first and thicken after standing for a minute or two.)
Recipe Source: HeatOvenTo350