I don’t know about y’all, but I could definitely live on macaroni and cheese. It is its own food group in my diet and I am 1000% not ashamed of that.
There’s never a bad time for mac and cheese, if you ask me. Lunch, dinner, mid-afternoon snack…in college, I sometimes even had mac and cheese as a mid-morning snack. There was a cafe in the student center that had some pretty delicious mac and cheese, and I didn’t always want to wait until “real” lunch time to have some.
As a kid, I ate mac and cheese at least once a week, usually accompanied by chicken tenders or my mom’s meat loaf. It was one of the things my mom made that I looked forward to the most. These days, it’s not unusual for me to make mac and cheese at home, and eat it every day until I run out of it.
In my journey to perfect my mac and cheese recipe, I’ve found one key ingredient that takes it from pretty delicious to oh-my-goodness-wow delicious. That ingredient is smoked gouda cheese. Regular gouda is fine, too, but smoked gouda is just a whole new level of rich, delectable deliciousness. It also smells amazing.
Okay, enough teasing. I’m making my own mouth water just typing all that.
Here’s my recipe for the cheesiest mac and cheese that will make everyone full and happy.
Well, at least I’m full and happy when eating this.
- 1, 1-lb box pasta of choice (I like elbows or shells)
- 5 cups cooking liquid (I use half milk, half water)
- 8 oz grated cheese (I use white cheddar and smoked gouda)
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp mustard powder
- 1 tsp paprika
I like my mac and cheese really peppery, so you can adjust that based on your personal tastes. If you like a little heat, add a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce or cayenne pepper.
Also, another great cheese combo: smoked gouda and gruyere. Mmmmmmm.
To make it:
- Pour cooking liquid into a large stock pot. Season with salt and bring to a boil.
- Add pasta and cook until al dente. Do NOT drain! Turn off heat.
- Add cheese and butter straight into the pot with the pasta. Stir to combine.
- Add a little more salt, and black pepper, mustard powder and paprika.
- Stir until cheese is melted and everything is combined. Add more milk if needed to thin it out (but not too much!).
- You can serve it immediately with just the cheese sauce and it’s magnificent.
- OR you can pour it into a greased casserole dish, top with more cheese and bread crumbs and bake for 10-15 minutes.
I don’t always bake my mac and cheese; I usually just want to eat it as soon as possible. But that extra effort to bake it can really be the cherry on top of a really delicious meal or side dish. I’ll do that if I’m taking mac and cheese to a dinner party or something special like that.
It’s normal to eat a whole bowl of mac and cheese for a meal, right? Because that’s exactly what I’m going to do now.
What is one meal or dish you just could never get tired of?