Let me start off by saying- I am EXTREMELY particular about my macaroni and cheese. I don’t like, for the most part, baked macaroni and cheese. For me, a good macaroni and cheese is a saucy macaroni and cheese.
I tend not to make this dish from scratch very often, mostly because I usually end up pissed off. Either the sauce is grainy, or its too dry or SOMETHING. But I’ve persevered and finally come up with a version that I think is pretty darn similar to the mac and cheese with the biggest cult following- Stouffer’s Mac and Cheese.
The key to a good, creamy mac and cheese is fat. There’s just no other way around it, sorry. I would apologize for the nutrition facts for this recipe, but let’s face reality here- you’re here because you want to copycat Stouffer’s mac and cheese. You and I both know thats not health food. The fat is necessary for a creamy sauce- I’ve tried cutting the fat down, either by less butter, or 2% milk, or whatever- and it never works as well. You end up with a grainy sauce, which is perhaps the most unappealing thing to eat ever.
Its up to you if you want to bake it or not, really. Baking it definitely does soak up some more of the cheese sauce, but some people really NEED that cheesy crust on top.
- 1 lb elbow macaroni
- 8 T butter
- ¼ c + 2 T flour
- 5 cups whole milk
- 1½ lb sharp cheddar, shredded (about 5 cups)
- ½ lb american cheese (about 9 slices)
- Salt and Pepper
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta to al dente, drain.
- In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Sprinkle the flour over and whisk in. Cook the roux for 1-2 minutes to cook off the raw flour taste.
- Slowly whisk in the milk until smooth. Simmer until slightly thickened, whisking occasionally so the bottom doesn't burn.
- Add the cheese, one handful at a time, whisking well after each one and not adding any more cheese until the previous handful is fully melted and incorporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add the drained pasta to the cheese sauce and stir to combine.
- Pour into a 9 x 13 dish. If desired, bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes.