The pure nostalgia of mac and cheese is reason enough to make it. I kept it as simple as possible with TONS of sharp cheddar and a little Gouda to round out the flavor. This is the kind of mac and cheese that you’d expect to stumble upon at any pot luck at any church in the South. Ridiculously creamy, enough to feed an army (seriously), and just begging to be served at your next get together or for any of your summer BBQs. This would make the man in your life fall in love all over again if you served it during the NFL draft, just sayin. I hosted a New Years Eve get together a few years ago and without a doubt Mac & Cheese was the most popular thing on the menu (goes great with sequins and champagne cocktails.)
This will get messy. This requires TONS of elbow grease. Any mac and cheese recipe from scratch does. Be patient, dont get scared, and make sure you have a good whisk. I prefer silicone or rubber covered whisks just because they dont hurt the bottom of your pans. I’ve linked my whisk on a previous blog post here: Ride or Die Kitchen Tools: The Basics
To make the sauce youll need at lease at 5qt sauce pan or a large high sided skillet. Also don’t even think about making this sauce with pre shredded cheese- it doesn’t work and will result in a weird, gritty clumpy mess.
- 1 pound Elbows (or any shorter pasta)
- 8 ounces Gouda Cheese, Shredded (About 2 cups)
- 16 ounces Sharp Cheddar, Shredded (about 4 cups)
- 1/2 c Butter (1 Stick, I use Salted butter) + 1 extra Tablespoon for baking pan
- 1/2 c Flour
- 1 1/2 c Milk (I use 2%)
- 2 cups Half and Half
- 1 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika
Recipe: (Feeds easily 10- 12 as a side, 6-8 as an entree. 15 minutes to assemble, 30 to bake)
- Cook your pasta ONE MINUTE less than package directions. This will keep it al dente and provide the perfect texture once it hits the sauce. Drain well until dry and set aside. In a large pan over medium low heat, melt your butter. When butter is totally melted, sprinkle in flour slowly.
2. Whisk to combine until flour totally dissapears into the butter. Continue whisking CONSTANTLY allowing the flour to cook into the butter, you should see small foamy bubbles after 2-3 minutes similar to the second photo. I pour my milk and half and half into a large pyrex measuring cup so that I can pour in about a cup at a time slowly. Slowly pour in your milk/ half and half and keep whisking.
3. Your flour/butter mixture will clump up and absorb alot of the milk/half and half. Keep whisking and slowly pouring in the liquid, making sure to stir out the clumps as quickly as possible.
After you’ve poured in all of the liquid keep whisking and lower if the heat until your sauce is thick and white, similar to a gravy with zero clumps, as pictured below.
4. Add your salt, pepper and paprika and stir until well combined. Add your Cheddar 1 cup at a time, letting it melt slowly while you stir gently. We will use 3 1/2 cups of cheddar (and save the rest for the topping.) When the cheddar is all combined, add 1 1/2 cups of Gouda, stirring to let it melt as well. (save the rest for the topping). If your sauce seems a little too thick (mine did) splash in about 1/4 cup of milk extra and keep stirring until your sauce thins out a bit.
5. When the cheese is all combined, turn the heat off and remove the pan from the stove so that the sauce doesn’t scorch. Add your Pasta and stir to combine really well, making sure the sauce coats every noodle. You can eat it directly from the stove if you prefer a super saucy creamy mac.
6. To bake (and really take it over the top) Preheat your oven to 350 and use the extra tablespoon of butter to grease the bottom and sides of a 9×13 baking dish. Pour the mac into the baking dish and spread out evenly.
Sprinkle the remaining Cheddar and Gouda over the top and cover the pan with foil. Bake for 30 minutes (covered with foil if you like a gooey melty top, or uncovered if you like a cheesy crust).
Enjoy this one! I hope it becomes a family favorite, and I promise its worth the effort.
Feel free to customize this with a panko breadcrumb topping, throw in some broccoli before baking, add in some chicken or brisket- or play with different cheese combinations. Once you get the sauce making down its super easy to be creative.