I’m going to keep this short & sweet, but have I ever mentioned that I have an AMAZING Mac & Cheese (from scratch) recipe? Because I do. It’s rich, it’s decedent, it’s cheesey, and it’s gobsmackin’ delicious! And if you don’t believe me, then you should just try my very own “THE” Mac & Cheese for yourself! And you want to know the main secret to this dish? Obviously, it’s the cheese, but it’s a little more than that. It’s the ability to spice things up by combining different kinds of cheeses together to really highlight and enhance those cheesey flavors!
But if you’re a traditionalist, then stick with cheddar, but a great combination that you can try is cheddar and gruyere. Or Cheddar and Manchego, which I have done and is incredibly scrumptious! You could even forgo the cheddar completed and sub in some raclette (cow milk cheese that lends itself REALLY well to melting, and if you don’t believe me, just search raclette cheese on YouTube and watch for yourself) or Monterey Jack! Maybe even throw in a little mascarpone or goats cheese to add a little extra creaminess to it!
And while this recipe is pretty basic and doesn’t seem like it’s anything special, that’s where the personal touch of what kind of cheese you use—primarily influenced by the cheeses you like—comes into play! You get to really influence and transform this recipe in so many ways, like adding bell peppers, or adding truffle butter, or adding mushrooms (if you’re into that sort of thing, which I’m most certainly not, but some folks really love it), or better yet, BACON! Mac & Cheese is such a blank canvas, and it’s when you take that leap of faith into your own creative mode that you’re able to really tap into the potential of this very homey dish! So don’t be afraid to get gouda and crazy (I’m sorry, but I had to) with the cheeses! — Cooking Maggie
- 1 lb. pasta
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup flour
- 4 cups milk
- 4 cups white cheddar cheese
- 2 cups Gruyere cheese
- 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
- 2 tsp salt (add more for taste)
- 1 tsp pepper
- 2. T. butter
- 1/2 c. panko bread crumbs
- Optional: Crushed Red Pepper for an added kick
- Optional: Crispy Bacon or Pancetta (because everything is better with bacon)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Grate cheese, and start to boil the water for pasta (add a little salt and olive oil to water)
- While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat.
- Sprinkle in flour and whisk together for 2-3 minutes.
- Add salt and pepper. Then SLOWLY pour in milk, whisking as you go until smooth. Add in cheese and whisk until completely melted and integrated. If adding in bacon or pancetta, stir this into the cheese sauce.
- When pasta has been cooked, drain.
- Add a layer of pasta to your baking dish, then pour a little sauce over the top of the pasta, making sure there is complete coverage. Continue doing this until you are out of pasta and sauce.
- In a small pan, melt 2 tbsp of butter and add the panko bread crumbs, stirring constantly till golden brown. Then spread over the top of pasta.
- Bake pasta for 12-15 minutes.
* Halve all ingredients to reduce the serving sizes
* You can change up the kinds of cheese you use – Manchego and White cheddar was a really great pairing, as was a combo of white & regular cheddar! I’ve seen mozzarella as an additional option, which I think looks AWESOME!