Thursday, June 04, 2015

Dreamy, Creamy Mac-and-Cheese

Stouffer's should sue me. This is as close as you are going to get to the real deal, in fact it's better.

Years ago when I started collecting recipes, you would have thought I had some sort of fetish for macaroni and cheese. Every other page in my electronic recipe file was some version of this ooey-gooey ultimate pasta comfort food. But the truth is, I was searching for this recipe. I wanted something that was like Stouffer's Mac-and-Cheese...dreamy and creamy. I found this recipe and threw all the others away.

Barbecues and potluck season is upon us and you will have people throwing themselves on the floor and kissing your feet when you show up with this showstopper. Every time I bring this, people ask me for the recipe. Unfortunately, I can't remember the site/blog where I found this specific version so I could cite it, but I want to thank them, wherever they are.

Dreamy, Creamy, Mac-and-Cheese
Recipe source: The angels from heaven

1/2 cup butter or 1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3 cups whole milk *
1 cup heavy cream *
2 8-ounce packages sharp cheddar cheese, shredded and divided   **
1 8 ounce package extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded  **
1 16-ounce package macaroni, cooked
4 ounces Velveeta, cubed in small cubes

* If you don't have heavy cream, you can substitute 2 cups milk and 2 cups half-and-half for the milk and cream ingredients

** I use 1 Cracker Barrel Extra Sharp and 2 Cracker Barrel Sharp Cheddar.  You don't have to use these, but do make sure you  use high-quality cheese and not just the pre-shredded stuff.

Boil and prepare the macaroni as you would normally; set aside. While the macaroni is cooking, shred the cheese either by hand or in a food processor. In a big skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Whisk the flour in slowly and continue to whisk until the mixture is smooth. Cook and whisk continually for 2 minutes. Add in salt, pepper, cayenne, and garlic; stir to combine. Gradually whisk in milk and then cream (or milk and half-and-half). Cook and whisk continually until mixture is thickened (about 8 to 10 minutes). Add in half of the sharp cheddar cheese; stir. Add in all of the extra-sharp cheddar cheese; stir until smooth. Add in the Velveeta; stir until smooth. Add 1/2 of the noodles to the bottom of a greased 9x13 inch casserole dish. Add 1/2 of the cheese mixture onto the top of the noodles and mix it all together so that the noodles are completely incorporated into the cheese. Add the remainder of the cheese and noodles and repeat.  It will look like it won't all fit in the dish, but trust me, it will. Sprinkle with the remaining sharp cheddar cheese. (Optional: if you like a crunchy top, consider topping this with some crushed crackers or crispy onions.) Bake in a 350° oven for 20 minutes or until the top is slightly browned. 

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