While this is certainly not the most challenging dish in the world, it is one of those that screams “HOME” like only very few others can. And it is definitely a meal that everyone makes a tiny bit different and thus everyone sort of has their own personal recipe for it. This is mine. It is for six generous servings, since no one should leave the table hungry after having had Mac & Cheese.
- 4 cups of elbow noodles
- 3 cups of shredded cheddar
- 4 cups of milk
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 3-4 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon of Pepper
- ½ teaspoon of nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 1,5 tablespoons of mustard
- ¼ teaspoon of chili powder
- ½ cup of fried onions
There are seemingly two philosophies when it comes to the noodles – to pre-cook or not to pre-cook. I’m a pre-cooking kinda gal. That being said, I strongly recommend leaving the noodles in the water for 2 minutes shorter than you normally would. Thereby, you ensure that they are not all soggy right off the bat (which is important, since we are trying to prepare a casserole and not a Mac & Cheese soup). Once the noodles are done (or underdone in our case), pour them into a large casserole dish and put them aside. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius/400 degrees Fahrenheit.
While the noodles are cooking, it is getting cheesy. Melt the butter in a pot on medium heat, add the milk and stir it. Make sure you do not cook this sauce at a high temperature, as it thickens up quite a bit and then you get a nasty surprise when half your sauce is baked onto the floor of your pot. Anyways. Slowly drizzle the flour into the milk while continuing to stir rapidly. You really want to make sure you do this at a high pace, otherwise you will end up with chunks of flour in your sauce, which is not very desirable. Once your mix is nicely blended, add the nutmeg and pepper. (Up until this point, this is exactly the way I prepare the béchamel sauce I use in my homemade lasagna. I might post that recipe on this blog as well). Then add the chili, garlic and mustard, while continuing to stir. You will probably wonder why I resort to using garlic powder instead of a garlic clove. The simple reason for this is that it blends more nicely into the sauce, where we aim for a consistent texture. Now add 2 cups of the grated cheese to the mix and continue to stir until everything is melted. Once that has been achieved, pour the sauce over the noodles in the casserole dish and drizzle the remaining cup of cheese evenly over that. Put it in the oven for approximately 15 minutes. Let the finished product sit for 10 minutes before eating and add fried onions on top if you wish.
Note, I don’t use any salt in this recipe, because the cheese is salty enough to provide you with enough of it and whenever you can, it is strongly advisable to keep your sodium intake as low as possible.