Last Monday started off great… and then took a drive straight down to the bottom. I was on the way home from set when I realized that this type of misery calls for comfort food, and my all time favorite comfort food is macaroni and cheese.
I have a popular recipe for mac n cheese that you can find here on my YouTube channel. That one has about 5 different types of cheeses and is probably the best on earth if I’m being honest. But, for this kind of day I wanted to go back to my roots, where mac n cheese wasn’t made from Velveeta or from a box, but made with a classic roux and real cheddar cheese.
While I was at the store looking for Tilamook Cheddar, I saw a block of chipotle cheddar, and I thought, “why not?” I’ve never made chipotle cheddar mac n cheese, or any other flavored mac n cheese besides bacon, of course. (;
So, I grabbed that and a block of sharp cheddar cheese, and checked out!
Over the years I’ve perfected a creamy mac n cheese from scratch. No processed cheeses, no sour cream, nothing but butter, flour, and half & half. The creamier the milk, the better. Since Adrian loves Velveeta, I don’t typically make this kind of mac n cheese, BUT, because Monday went from week day to hell hole, I brought out the big guns.
I want to warn you that I was a little extra with the recipe, and let ya’ll know that you don’t have to add more cheese to the top and broil it in the oven to make it look good. I am just a foodie, so I love having the beautiful image of cheese bubbling and melting on top. Ugh. *drools*
I hope you give this recipe a try, and let me know what you think!
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp flour
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups of half and half (I like mine to be creamy, but not too thick, so I add an extra half cup)
- 10 oz elbow noodles (I used whole wheat, and a little over half a box)
- 4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 4 oz chipotle cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella (mozzarella is a soft cheese, so I use it to make the sauce creamier, not necessarily for flavor)
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- salt and pepper to taste ( I probably used 1 tsp of salt and 2 tsp of pepper)
Making a roux is a practiced art. You may not get it right the first time, but that’s okay! I’m going to break it down for you so that you can make the best roux that you can the first time, and then keep getting better as you go.
- Prepare the noodles according to packaging instructions. While the water is heating for the noodles, we’re going to start the roux.
- Have the butter, flour, and half & half (or milk) measured out by the stove and ready to go. In a medium/large skillet melt butter on medium heat exactly. The second the butter is completely melted, dust the flour as even as you can over the butter. Grab a whisk and start whisking immediately. If you get it just right, the flour won’t clump. If it’s clumping on you, that’s okay, we can fix it. Keep whisking until the butter and flour start looking like a smooth paste. SLOWLY pour in the half & half. It’s BEST if the half & half is at room temperature, but I’m gonna be honest, I never remember to put it out before I make this, so here’s what I do to make up for it: slowly pour in the milk with one hand and whisk slowly with the other. Once the milk is added, bring up the heat to medium-high. The slower it takes for the milk to heat up, the more clumpy your butter/flour will become. You don’t want to burn it, for Pete’s sake, so don’t put it on high, just watch it as you continue to whisk slowly. You may have to put the whisk down for a couple of minutes to let science do it’s thing, and once you start to see some bubbles around the edges of the pan, you can bring the heat down to medium-low, give it a stir, and let it sit for 3-4 minutes letting the sauce thicken. Good job! Now, check your water. Is it boiling? Add the noodles. If not…
- Shred all of your cheese! Set aside. Once the sauce has thickened, add the red pepper flakes, garlic, salt and pepper, and stir. Add each type of cheese one at a time and stir with a spoon (you no longer need a whisk). The cheese should melt fairly quickly. Once the cheese is melted, congratulations, you’ve made your sauce!
- Once your noodles have been cooked and drained you can place them into a big bowl with the cheese sauce, stir, and enjoy! Or….
- Add the mac n cheese back to the skillet and top with a hearty layer of more cheddar cheese. Turn your broiler on high and watch that cheese start to bubble and brown (3-5 minutes). Keep your eye on it – broilers get hot fast and you don’t want to burn your mac n cheese!
- Once the cheese is melted, remove from the oven, serve, and enjoy!