This is a go-to recipe of mine for a quick and kid-friendly weeknight dinner. After all, what child could refuse macaroni and cheese? Ok, so maybe there’s technically no macaroni in this recipe, but hey, close enough. This recipe began while on a mission to create a cheese sauce that did not curdle when reheated. A huge pet peeve of mine. Turns out the trick to a macaroni and cheese sauce that doesn’t get grainy is fat, and avoiding high heat after adding the cheese.
Ok, let’s tackle the first issue at hand: The fat. Yes, I know many of you don’t care much for that word, but in order to keep your sauce from breaking, you really do need heavy whipping cream. Not half and half, no whole milk – cream. Next up, the cheese and the heat. I wanted to keep this recipe simple, and truthfully, all you need for a food ol’ fashioned, homemade mac and cheese recipe is Cheddar, but not the super old aged cheddar. Just a standard Cheddar will do just fine. Now for the heat. Don’t crank up the heat after you’ve added the Cheddar. This will contribute to a grainy cheese sauce. Just keep the temp on low, or off the heat all together once you begin to add in the Cheddar. That’s all the know-how you need to create perfect, made-from-scratch macaroni and cheese at home. Well, that and maybe this recipe. Enjoy.
- 12 ounces medium-sized pasta shells
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons All-Purpose flour
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream warmed
- 2 cups freshly grated Cheddar cheese
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce optional
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon dry mustard powder
In a large pot, bring pasta water to a boil and season heavily with salt. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain well and set aside until ready to use.
In a medium-sized sauce-pan over medium heat, melt the butter and sprinkle over the flour. Whisk together and allow to cook for 2 minutes, taking care not to let it brown. Slowly, add the warmed cream a splash at time, whisking until smooth after each addition until it reaches a pudding-like consistency. At this point you may add in the remaining liquid and whisk. Raise the heat to medium-high and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Turn the heat down to low, and add cheddar a ¼ cup at time, stirring after each addition until completely melted.
Add remaining ingredients and stir. Pour cheese sauce over pasta, stir to coat, serve and enjoy.
Pair Shells and Cheese with:
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