Ok, let’s start this off with a hot take.  Macaroni and chees do not belong in an oven.  Ever. I believe doing this to such an amazing dish is a crime against humanity.  Do you like soggy, dry bricks of pasta? No? Then do not bake your mac and cheese. There’s no reason to cook something again that’s already cooked unless it’s a twice-baked potato. 

Ok, good, now that’s out of the way, we can cook some real, ooey-gooey, creamy, cheesy macaroni and cheese.  This is perfect for these cold, windy December nights.  What this recipe is is that mac and cheese with the silver pouch of sauce, except much better and fresher. It’s saucy AF and delicious to boot. Also, not as neon. Now here are the ingredients;

  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 4 cup milk
  • 3 cups dry pasta 
  • 1 cup gruyere cheese
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • Salt and pepper

Yes, there’s Dijon mustard in the picture.  Ignore it.  I decided to not use it last second. Also, NOT pictured is the onion powder.  That was a last-second addition.  Tasting as you go along helps you adjust your recipe properly.

Ok, enough talking, cook time!  Put your pot of salted water on. Once it’s up to a boil, throw your pasta in.  I prefer elbows, but you can use shells or even fusilli.  Whatever floats your boat.  The key here is you’re trying to time when the pasta is done to be when the cheese sauce is done.  

After the pasta has started boiling, it’s time to make the cheese sauce. Now, here’s a tip.  When you need to grate your cheese, freeze the cheese blocks for an hour or so beforehand.  It actually grates a lot easier when it’s semi-frozen.  Speaking of which, the first thing you need to do is grate that cheese then set it aside.  Also, use whatever cheese you wish.  I just really like the combo of gruyere and cheddar.  

Next, it’s time for the bechamel sauce. In a large saucepan, add the butter and flour on medium heat. While this is going get your pot of salted water going.  Mix the flour and butter until they come together.  This is your roux. The darker the roux, the thicker whatever you’re adding it to will be.  Here, we want a nice, light blonde color. You want to basically cook the rawness out of the flour.   Also important is the ratio of flour to fat (in this case butter) is 1:1.  

Once you have your roux the color you want, add the milk and whisk the roux in until there are no lumps.  Crank the heat to high and bring to a boil.  Once it hits a bowl drop back down to medium heat and let it cook for a couple of minutes, constantly stirring. If you don’t stir, it will burn the milk and you’ll be starting all over again.  When you drop the heat, also add the garlic and onion powders, turmeric, and dry mustard powder and stir.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add the cheese and stir until all of the cheese has melted into the sauce.  

At this point, your pasta should be done.  Drain your pasta, but for the love of God, don’t rinse it.  Please.  Now, turn the heat off on the cheese sauce and add the pasta.  Combine pasta with sauce, serve, and enjoy!

Remember, this is just a bare-bones, basic recipe.  Do you want to add bacon? Go for it.  Do you want bread crumbs? Melt some butter, toss bread crumbs in it, then bake for a few minutes until crispy, and top your mac and cheese.  Maybe you’re weird like I am and add cooked hotdogs to it because it’s really delicious and you have no idea what you’re missing. Or, just eat it plain because it’s ridiculously delicious as is.  You do you, just be sure to enjoy it!  

Oh yeah, this recipe is about 8 hefty servings.  Good luck!

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Jay Flanders

Jay Flanders is a native of Newport and avid cook. While he studied at the University of Rhode Island, he also attended the College of Food Network via his television set where he learned the basics of cooking. Also being an all-too-avid eater at restaurants, he really began to learn what ingredients went together, cooking techniques and other tips and tricks in the kitchen. He used that knowledge to teach himself how to cook and how to start making his own recipes. Now, he’s here to give you his tips, tricks and sometimes uniquely tasty spins on recipes and to show you that great cooking can be done is the tiniest of kitchens like his.