Steve kept asking me to post a mac and cheese recipe. I was being wishy-washy, dragging my feet, and just overall not “feeling” a mac and cheese post. So I put it off, and I put it off. And then, last weekend, we had some friends to the house for some BBQ, and Steve got to pick the menu. His menu included mac and cheese.
One of the reasons I was reluctant to post a recipe is because macaroni and cheese is not something I usually eat. Not because I don’t think it is super yummy, but because I think it is SUPER yummy. And this recipe, in particular, is especially sinful. We’re talking a decadently creamy concoction, with the flavors of sharp cheddar and Gruyere cheeses, baked to tender perfection.
So, despite my usual caution, I gave in to Steve’s request. After all, we were entertaining, there was going to be BBQ, and mac and cheese fit the menu. I made a double batch of this recipe.
And bless our guests, they were so effusive in their praise for this all-American dish! Seconds were had, sincere expressions of approval were shared, and offers were made to take some of the leftovers off my hands. I was happy to oblige. And then the next day, as I was exchanging texts with a couple of the friends who had come over, I got the request; “Lori, when you have the time, can you share the mac and cheese recipe? No rush.”
So, here I am. Finally posting the mac and cheese recipe!
Therefore, without further ado, here we go!
making the sinful baked mac and cheese
See what I mean? This mac and cheese really IS sinful.
Often, when I want to vary my culinary repertoire, I go online to garner ideas. Invariably, I find several recipes with things I really like, so I just tend to take what I consider to be the “best” out of each one, and then I kind of mash up the concepts into a single dish. That is how the sinful baked mac and cheese came into being.
Cook up the elbow macaroni just short of being fully cooked. The package I used recommended 7 minutes for a firm macaroni, so that is how long I boiled it.
After straining the pasta, I like to add a 1/2 teaspoon of butter to the still-hot noodles. I stir it as it melts. This helps coat the macaroni and keeps them from sticking to each other.
Next, let’s make the cheese sauce.
Start by melting the butter and whisking in the flour to make a roux. Cook it for a minute or so.
Then add the milk and heavy cream, whisking until all the roux has been dissolved.
Cook, whisking occasionally, until the mixture thickens into a béchamel sauce.
Then add half of each of the cheeses. The other half is reserved for when you assemble the mac and cheese.
Whisk the cheese in until it is melted and fully incorporated.
Pour the cooked macaroni directly into the sauce pan and stir until everything is evenly distributed.
Pour half of the macaroni and sauce into a buttered oven dish.
Sprinkle half of the remaining sharp cheddar and Gruyere over the mixture. Then add the remaining macaroni and sauce, and top with the remaining cheese.
Bake until the cheese topping fully melts and the mixture is bubbly.
I like to turn the oven to broil for a couple of minutes at the end to give it some nice character on top. But that’s entirely optional.
Remove from the oven and give it about 5 minutes or so for the sauce to settle. It will be very hot, so waiting is probably a good way to keep from burning your tongue.
Then spoon that deliciousness onto a plate. Oh my gosh, look how cheesy and creamy!
Rating disclosure: the noises you make while eating this sinful baked mac and cheese may not be suitable for younger audiences. I’m just sayin’…expect moans and groans.
Gosh it’s good!
So, to the ladies from last weekend, here you go! Enjoy!
- 8 ounces elbow macaroni
- ¼ cup butter (1/2 stick) plus ½ teaspoon, separated
- ¼ cup flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 2 cups (1 pound) sharp white cheddar, shredded
- 1 cup (1/2 pound) Gruyere, shredded
- ⅛ teaspoon sweet paprika (Hungarian)
- Fresh black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350° F.
- Cook the elbow noodle in salted boiling water until al dente.
- Strain and toss in ½ teaspoon of butter and stir until fully melted. This will keep the macaroni noodles from sticking to each other.
- Prepare the cheese sauce by melting the butter in a large sauce pan.
- Add the flour and whisk until a roux forms.
- Cook over medium low heat for a minute or two more.
- Add the milk and the cream.
- Whisk until the roux has been completely dissolved and incorporated into the milk and cream.
- Cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture thickens into a béchamel sauce.
- Add half of the cheddar and half of the Gruyere. Reserve the remaining cheese.
- Stir until all the cheese has melted and is integrated into the sauce.
- Add the paprika, salt and pepper. Test to taste. Adjust as needed.
- Remove the pan from the heat.
- Add the macaroni noodles into the sauce in the pan and stir until everything is well incorporated.
- Pour half of the macaroni mixture into a buttered 8¼ x 11-inch oven dish.
- Sprinkle half of the remaining cheese.
- Top with the remaining macaroni mixture and the rest of the cheese.
- Bake until the cheese is fully melted and the macaroni and cheese is bubbling.
- If desired, turn the oven to broil for two minutes to add some color to the top of the mac and cheese (optional).
- Remove from the oven and allow the mac and cheese to cool for about 5 minutes.