Although not the prettiest dinner, macaroni and cheese is one of those comfort foods that remind me of childhood. When my family moved from Canada to Mauritius, I remember packing boxes of Kraft Dinner to bring there, since KD didn’t exist there! I was 10yrs old and this is what prioritizing meant to me. My little brother and I quickly exhausted our supply of beloved KD, and so I had to make do with homemade macaroni and cheese… which was obviously so much better!!! Ironically, now that I’m all grown up and back in Canada with endless supplies of KD, I no longer want it… Because guess what, the mac and cheese I make is a gazillion times better!!! Ladies and gentlemen, I am pro at making mac and cheese. I remember having a mac and cheese cook-off with my roomie in university, and after he tasted mine, he didn’t even bother making his, because he declared me winner by default! And no, I am not exaggerating (just bragging), tis true! Because if there’s something I’m good at, it’s making pasta bathed in cheesy, creamy gooeyness. And the best part is the crunchy topping! It contrasts well with the soft pasta and cheese sauce. Do not omit that step!! Also, you don’t have to use the same cheeses that I did, but I find that using strong cheeses makes it taste not-bland. And these ones combine together well.
Anyway, I made my beloved macaroni and cheese on a rainy, cold Sunday night in Vancouver, after spending the whole day inside watching movies under blankets with tea, in my favourite baggy pants with no makeup on. I didn’t have much of an appetite that day, and had hardly eaten. So at 6pm I was pretty hungry for some comfort food! I wasn’t about to go outside and buy groceries, but luckily, I have at least 5 different cheeses in my fridge at all times (right now it’s basil goat cheese, blue cheese, Dubliner cheese, Parmesan, and old white cheddar), and everyone has pasta at the back of their pantry somewhere, so I was able to make this yummy meal without too much hassle, yay! It seemed impressive that I whipped up something so delicious and homey with no recipe, no extra groceries, and minimal effort (except for all the grating), and it was a big hit 🙂 So if you want to pull together a dinner out of thin air on a lazy Sunday, this is what you want to do! I served my macaroni and cheese with red wine, and decided that the wine made it a “classy” dinner. So there.
- Cooked macaroni pasta
- Extra old white cheddar cheese, grated
- Gruyere cheese, grated
- Asiago cheese, grated
- Dollop of butter
- A few tablespoons of flour
- Panko crumbs
Okay so the key to making good mac and cheese is making a cheesy white sauce. You could bathe the pasta in tons of heavy cream, but a white sauce tastes just as creamy and isn’t as heavy. So melt a dollop of butter in a pot, and then add a few tablespoons of flour. You want to stir it together into a paste. Then add a tiny bit of milk, and whisk it together into a homogeneous mixture. Keep adding more and more milk, whisking it in gradually, until you get a thick sauce-like consistency. Don’t add too much milk at once, especially at the beginning, or clumps will form in your sauce. Season with salt and pepper, and dump in the three cheeses, saving some for the topping. Mix till melted. Make sure it’s seasoned enough, because there’s nothing worse than bland mac and cheese.
Put the cooked macaroni in an ovenproof casserole dish, and pour the cheese sauce overtop. Use your judgment, and don’t put so little that it’s dry, but don’t pour in too much either! You don’t want your macaroni to be drowning in sauce! Scatter the rest of the grated cheese on top, and top with a generous amount of panko crumbs. Bake in the oven at 350F until bubbly, and the crust on top is brown.