Creamy macaroni and cheese is a beloved family favorite dish that both children and adults enjoy. It combines layers of melted cheeses in a creamy and rich cheese sauce, creating the ultimate indulgence! It’s an ideal option for a comforting and delicious dinner. Follow our culinary article to learn how to make macaroni and creamy cheese.
Where did Macaroni and Cheese Come From?
The origins of macaroni and cheese are believed to come from Northern Europe, with the earliest recorded recipe dating back to 1769. It later became a staple in American cuisine thanks to Thomas Jefferson. During his visit to France, he developed a fondness for pasta dishes and brought back noodle recipes and a pasta machine to the United States. As president, he even served macaroni and cheese at a state dinner in 1802.
Macaroni and cheese, a beloved family favorite dish, has captured the hearts of both children and adults. Jefferson’s fascination with pasta dishes during his visit to France led him to bring back noodle recipes and a pasta machine to the United States. He even served this delectable combination at a state dinner in 1802. Today, macaroni and cheese continues to delight taste buds, offering a comforting and indulgent experience.
Creamy Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
Here is the recipe for the perfect creamy macaroni and cheese starting with the ingredients you will need.
- 1 pound (454 grams) macaroni
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 4 cups shredded medium cheddar cheese
- 2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Preheat the oven to 325°F and grease a baking dish, then set aside. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Once the water is boiling, add the macaroni and cook it for 1 minute less than the time specified on the package. Add a little olive oil to prevent sticking.
- While the water is boiling, grate the cheeses and combine them together, then divide into three portions: approximately 3 cups for the sauce, 1 1/2 cups for the inner layer, and 1 1/2 cups for the topping.
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk until well combined. The mixture will appear very moist. Cook for about 1 minute, whisking constantly.
- Slowly pour in about 2 cups of milk and cream while continuously whisking to create a smooth consistency.
- Increase the heat slightly and continue whisking until the mixture thickens to a creamy consistency, similar to a thick soup. Remove from heat and add the spices and 1/2 cup of shredded cheese, whisking until combined. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of cheese and whisk until fully melted and smooth.
- In a large bowl, combine the drained macaroni with the cheese sauce and stir until fully coated.
- Pour half of the macaroni mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle it with 1/2 cup of shredded cheese, then pour the remaining macaroni mixture on top. Sprinkle the last cup of cheese on the surface. Bake for 15 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and slightly golden brown.
What to do to Make your Creamy Macaroni and Cheese at its Best?
Choose the perfect pasta variety.
To create the ultimate macaroni and cheese masterpiece, your journey begins in the pasta aisle of the grocery store. The array of pasta shapes may seem overwhelming, but selecting the right one will elevate your dinner experience. Opt for pasta varieties with plenty of nooks and crannies, allowing them to capture and hold onto the creamy cheese sauce. While elbow macaroni is a timeless choice, my personal favorite is cavatappi, closely followed by pipette and medium shells.
Embrace the milk-boiling method.
While most mac and cheese recipes call for boiling the pasta in water, it’s time to break the mold and go for the unconventional: boil it in milk. Not only does this method reduce waste since you’ll be using the milk to make the cheese sauce, but the pasta also releases starch into the milk as it cooks, resulting in a more velvety and substantial texture. This will contribute to an even smoother and creamier cheese sauce.
Follow the “rule of two” with cheeses.
Aim to incorporate two types of cheeses in your mac and cheese recipe: one sharp and one creamy. This dynamic duo brings both flavor and luxurious mouthfeel to the dish, creating a winning combination. It’s best to choose crowd-pleasing cheeses, particularly if you’re serving children. While I often opt for a pairing of cheddar and Gruyère, feel free to experiment with combinations like Parmesan, Pecorino, or aged Asiago for the sharp cheese, and Gouda, Monterey Jack, or Fontina for the creamy cheese.
Grate your own cheese for maximum flavor.
Although it may be tempting to grab pre-shredded cheese from the store, I strongly recommend buying a block of cheese and reaching for your trusty box grater. The pre-shredded varieties often contain additives and anti-caking agents, which can diminish the cheese’s flavor and result in a dry texture that hampers its ability to melt seamlessly into a luscious sauce.
Harness the power of mustard powder.
Unleash the secret ingredient that will make your mac and cheese recipe stand out: mustard powder. Adding just a pinch or two to the cheese sauce imparts a subtle, delightful heat that enhances the cheese’s flavor profile. The mustard powder works its magic, elevating the overall taste of the dish and leaving everyone clamoring for your coveted mac and cheese recipe.
From its humble beginnings in Europe to its journey across the Atlantic and onto the American dinner tables, creamy macaroni and cheese has become a timeless classic. This creamy dish, featuring layers of melted cheeses in a rich sauce, has won the hearts and palates of countless individuals. Its popularity endures through generations, providing comfort and satisfaction in every bite. Whether enjoyed as a weeknight dinner or showcased at special occasions, macaroni and cheese remains a treasured part of culinary traditions. So, gather your loved ones, savor the nostalgia, and relish the timeless delight that is macaroni and cheese.