I’m a mom and I live in the real world. In this real world that I happen to be a part of, lives the love of mac and cheese. Not necessarily my first love, but it is of my little ones. If I ask my 3 year old what he wants to eat, the first answer will always be mac and cheese. Here lies the problem. Boxed mac and cheese is gross and it’s incredibly bad for you.
So, what is a mom to do? I’ve been making my own mac and cheese for years. It’s an easy 30 minute meal, maybe less, once you get the recipe in your head.
Macaroni and cheese is not what I would consider a salubrious recipe, but it is something that most families want to eat and this may make you feel a little bit better about giving it to your family. There are no unpronounceable chemical names, no powdered cheese and no processed cheese in a vacuumed sealed bag littered with sodium. Are you really comfortable eating “cheese” that doesn’t need to be refrigerated when you buy it? I’m not.
Please shred your own cheese for this. Preshredded cheese will not melt to a creamy consistency in your sauce. And we all know that a good mac and cheese is nothing without a creamy sauce!
Making your own cheese sauce can be a little overwhelming if you haven’t done it before. Start by melting the butter, add the olive oil and then the flour. Cook the flour until it is a light brown, but not burnt. Burning your flour will result in a bad tasting mac and cheese and we do not want that.
Next, whisk in your milk. Do this in 1/2 cups at a time and whisk each time. Allow the sauce to come back up to temperature and then it will start to thicken up. Whisk the clumps out. Turn the heat down slightly.
Your sauce won’t be super thick, like a gravy, but the consistency of this will determine the consistency of your final cheese sauce. I like a super creamy sauce, so I leave it a little thinner. Add the cheese and stir to melt through and then turn off the heat.
Add your pasta and stir. The picture at the top is just the recipe, this picture is really what I had for dinner.
- 12 oz cooked pasta of your choice, about 6 cups cooked pasta
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 3 Tablespoons all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt (optional)
- 2 cups low fat milk
- 2 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese (freshly grated)
- Cook pasta according to package directions, drain
- In a large skillet or dutch oven, melt butter and olive oil together over medium heat
- Whisk in flour and allow to cook for 1-2 minutes
- If adding salt, add it here
- Slowly whisk in milk ½ cup at a time, whisk constantly and allow sauce to come to a simmer each time; do not allow to boil and turn down heat if necessary.
- When all the milk is added and sauce is slightly thickened and back up to a light simmer, turn the heat down slightly, add cheese and stir constantly until melted.
- Turn off heat.
- Add pasta and stir through
- Serve hot
Depending on your sauce to macaroni ratio, add more or less pasta.