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  • Writer's pictureCathy Dyer

Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

Kids love it, so give them the real thing

Homemade macaroni and cheese is so much better than what comes out of a box. Use good ingredients and skip the runny fake orange stuff.


1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon dry ground mustard

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 cups whole milk

2 cups shredded white aged cheddar cheese

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/3 cup dry bread crumbs (I use leftover sourdough bread)

hot paprika to sprinkle on top


Preheat oven to 375°F.

1. Add macaroni to cold salted water in large saucepan. Turn heat to medium high and cook until al dente. The water may not even boil before the macaroni it cooked enough. (No, you don't have to bring the water to a boil first. What a waste of time and energy! If you don't believe me, just ask famous chef Alton Brown) Drain the macaroni and put it in an ovenproof covered 2 - 4 quart skillet.

2. Make a roux. This is the most important part. Making a nutty flavored roux is the difference between good mac n cheese and GREAT mac n cheese.

Melt 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour, mustard, salt, and pepper all at once and whisk, whisk, whisk until the mixture turns golden brown and has a nice nutty aroma. Don't turn your back during this step. Whisk until it reaches the right color, which will happen quickly. It will look something like this:

Lightly browning the roux adds incredible flavor to the cheese sauce!

3. Add about half the milk to the roux and whisk to combine. It will take the mixture a few minutes to get back up to heat and start thickening. Once you have a hot and thick mixture, add the rest of the milk. Continue whisking until thickened again. When properly thickened, the sauce will coat the back of a wooden spoon like this:

4. Stir in the cheeses, leaving a bit aside to sprinkle on top of the dish. Just stir until the cheese is melted. You don't need to cook the cheese, just melt it into the sauce.

5. Pour the sauce over the macaroni and stir. Top with the breadcrumbs and the reserved shredded cheese. Sprinkle hot paprika over the top.

6. Bake uncovered in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.


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