There seems to a huge difference between Macaroni and Cheese recipes. I have been served some amazing Mac and Cheese dishes in America and Australia, but I have eaten some pretty sad dishes too. I recently had a meal at the Easy Street Diner in the Gold Coast and it started me thinking about all the Mac & Cheese dishes I’ve had over the years.
My love affair with “The Mac” started long before I had even sampled the dish. I was a teenager reading a fiction story and the dish was mentioned. The passing mention of Mac and Cheese in this book ignited my culinary imagination. I love cheese, especially delicious, melty cheese. Every kid loves pasta; it was an obvious match made in heaven!
I tried to convince my mother of the merits of making Macaroni Cheese. My pleas fell on deaf ears. There was no way she would prepare a meal as devoid of nutrients or as high in fat and carbohydrates as macaroni cheese. I was stuck with meat and three vegetables.
Fast forward to when I was about 15 years old. I had a part time job and was earning my own money. I noticed a packet Macaroni Cheese in the supermarket. I purchased this dubious product and followed the instructions. It was such a disappointing purchase. The bright yellow sauce didn’t even taste like cheese. I tried adding real cheese but the moment was lost.
My faith in Macaroni and Cheese was not at all shaken by this poor example. I knew it would be just a matter of making the dish from scratch myself.
Fast forward to today. After years of taste testing, I now know what makes the perfect Macaroni and Cheese recipe.
The Perfect Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
- Needs to have a crusty grilled melted cheese layer on top.
- The recipe needs to include a tasty cheese with good melting ability, a stringy cheese and a matured cheese for extra flavour.
- The sauce needs to be creamy enough to coat the pasta and get inside the tubes of macaroni.
- The sauce should not be too thin that the dish won’t hold it’s shape.
- The sauce should not be too thick that it tastes gluey with the pasta.
If this is how you like your Macaroni and Cheese take a look at my recipe and tell me what you think.
- 340 g / 3/4-pound uncooked pasta
- 70 g / 5 Tbs butter
- 60 g /6 Tbs plain flour
- 2 cups / 500ml milk
- 2 cups / 500ml pouring cream
- 3 cups / 200gm grated tasty cheese
- 1 1/2 cup / 140gm grated mozzarella cheese
- 1 1/2 cup /140gm grated matured cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup / 45g grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
- 1 Tbs tomato paste
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne or red pepper powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cups / 90gm grated tasty cheese
- 2 Tbs grated parmesan cheese
- sprinkle smoky paprika
Preheat an oven to 350ºF or 180ºC.
Cook the pasta as per the manufactures directions.
Drain and place the cooked pasta and reserve for later.
Add the butter to a saucepan and melt gently.
Stir through the flour to make a roux. The flour needs to be cooked but not browned, approx 2 mins stirring constantly.
Reduce the heat and slowly add 1/2 cup of milk to the roux.
Whisk the milk though the mixture vigorously until there are no lumps.
Quickly add another 1/2 cup of milk and whisk again.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk through the remaining milk, cream, mustard tomato paste and cayenne pepper.
Once combined add the saucepan to a medium heat.
Stir the saucepan constantly until the sauce has thickened.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and add all the cheeses. Stir the sauce for a minute or two then return the saucepan to a low heat.
Season the cheese sauce with salt and pepper as desired.
Stir the sauce through the pasta.
Pour the macaroni and cheese into a baking tray or individual serving dishes.
Sprinkle the topping ingredients evenly over the macaroni cheese.
Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is golden.
Now that we have the basic Macaroni and Cheese Recipe nailed, I want to make some suggestions to take your dish to the next level.
- Macaroni and Cheese with Shaved Black Truffle
- Macaroni and Cheese with Pepperoni
- Deep fried Macaroni and Cheese Balls
Readers, what has been your experience with the humble Mac and Cheese? Is this a dish you love or hate? Do you add anything special to your Mac & Cheese?