Classic Baked Mac ‘n Cheese

This mac ‘n cheese recipe is really flavorful but definitely one that’s kid friendly.  I was trying out recipes for Charlie’s upcoming birthday party and this one definitely took the cake (no pun intended).  It’s really creamy, has good crunch on top and is not the least bit bland.  Plus, you could add chopped ham to it and totally make it a complete kids (or adult) meal in and of itself.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. elbow macaroni
  • 4 tbsp salted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 lb. cheddar cheese, grated (I used 1/2 lb. white cheddar and 1/2 lb. yellow cheddar – you could use any cheese combination you want)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • Dashes of cayenne pepper and paprika
  • Crushed up Ritz crackers, for topping

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Cook macaroni according to package directions until slightly firm (no more than 5 minutes, it will continue to cook in the oven) – strain and set aside
  • In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat
  • Whisk in the flour and cook the mixture for five minutes, whisking constantly and being careful not to burn
  • Add the milk to the pot, stir in the dry mustard, and whisk until smooth
  • Cook the mixture for five minutes until very thick – reduce the heat to low
  • Add the beaten egg to a small bowl.  Take 1/4 cup of the warm sauce and slowly pour it into the beaten egg, whisking constantly to avoid scrambling the egg.  Whisk until smooth.  Pour the tempered egg mixture back into the sauce, whisking constantly.  Stir until smooth
  • Mix in the grated cheese and stir until completely melted
  • Add in salt and other seasonings
    • Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly – this is important, especially if it needs more salt!
  • Add the drained, cooked macaroni to the pot and mix well
  • Pour the mixture into a baking dish, top with crushed Ritz crackers, and bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes or until golden and bubbly on top


*Recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman