I teach in a middle school in the Bronx. When we have potlucks at school, the kids all bring their parent’s mac and cheese, and we have a potluck that consists of 5 huge trays of thick, cheesy macaronis, and lots of packaged cookies and potato chips.
I decided to try to make a macaroni and cheese that would impress. My first macaroni and cheese was rejected by the discerning palates of the 13 year olds in my class, because they didn’t like the ‘extras’ that I put in. Apparently things like bacon, onions, etc. are actually ‘crap’.
I did much better with this recipe, which is very simple, and, to be honest, much better than my original.
I like to use a fancy shaped pasta that is twirly and swirly and holds onto the cheese very well. Anything will do really, as long as it’s a short pasta. This isn’t the healthiest recipe, but it is pretty much universally enjoyed.
- 1 Box Pasta
- 4 T Butter
- 4 T Flour
- 1.5 – 2C Milk (Skim is fine, obviously the fattier the better, but this is really already not the most healthy thing that you’ll have on your table)
- 1 package of shredded cheese (sharp cheddar) OR the equivalent in a famcier cheese – I like gruyere, asiago, fontina…
- Breadcrumbs w/ 1T butter
- salt, pepper
- Boil a big pot of water
- While water is boiling, melt 4T butter in a saucepan
- Use a fork or whisk to combine the melted butter with the flour in the pan. Keep the heat on and stir until it is entirely smooth.
- Slowly add the milk. If the milk is room temperature when you add it, it will combine more easily. As you add, stir to make sure the flour mixture isn’t clumping
- Keep the heat on medium, and stir occasionally to make sure the flour isn’t clumping. The sauce will thicken as the moisture evaporates. Add 2 tsp pepper, and 1 tsp salt
- Salt the boiling water and add the box of pasta
- Add the cheese to the thickened milk (this is the base for fondue, and in this case, the base for your mac and cheese)
- Drain the pasta and add to the sauce, tossing until all is coated.
- Pour the pasta/sauce into a baking pan (like you would use for brownies or cakes)
- Melt the last bit of butter and combine with 1/2 C of seasoned breadcrumbs.
- Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top of the pasta
- Bake at 350 degrees for 20 – 30 minutes. Everything is cooked, it just depends how crispy you like your top.