If anyone were ever to call me a recipe purist, they’d be wildly mistaken. I like my foods fusion-ified. I like them loaded with crazy amounts of fillings and toppings, and authenticity always follows far behind enjoyability when it comes to my meals. I do not have a Plain Jane appetite, to say the least. However, when it comes to the classic comforts– chocolate chip cookies, brownies, meatballs, and macaroni and cheese, for example– every person absolutely has to have a traditional, dependable, and totally delectable recipe under their belt. It’s a must.
This Classic Creamy Macaroni and Cheese recipe is the mac and cheese you’ve been searching for all your life and just didn’t know it. Three cheeses are added to the bechamel, and a visit below the broiler crisps up the top to create a lovely golden layer. No nonsense, just oh-so-comforting pasta and cheese sauce, like some adorable grandma out there used to make. Not my grandma, but someone’s grandma, for sure.
Because this recipe doesn’t load up heavily on sauces or spices, you don’t want to cut corners with the cheeses. Aged cheddar, nutty gruyere, and salty parmesan make the cheese sauce ultra-flavorful.
To make sure the sauce is creamy, I start with bechamel. Bechamel is made simply with butter, flour, and milk to create a thick, rich sauce that the cheese will melt into evenly and easily. I toss al dente pasta into the cheese sauce and I can eat it right off the stove, simple as that! I like crispy cheese crusts, though, so I pop mine under the broiler until it begins to brown and then sprinkle it with chives before digging in.
- 1 pound macaroni or pasta of choice
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder
- 4 ounces aged cheddar cheese, shredded
- 4 ounces gruyere cheese, shredded
- 2 ounces parmesan cheese, grated, divided
- 1 bunch chives, chopped, to top
- In a large pot of salted water, boil the pasta to al dente. Drain the pasta and set aside to dry.
- In the same pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour, a bit at a time, until completely combined, and continue to whisk until golden, about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk until smooth and continue to whisk until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Mix in the salt, garlic powder, and cayenne powder.
- Add in the cheddar, gruyere, and half of the parmesan, a handful at a time, stirring until melted entirely. Toss the cooked pasta in with the sauce mixture and transfer to an oven safe skillet or baking dish. Top with the remaining grated parmesan.
- Broil until the cheese on top gets bubbly and begins to brown on the edges, about 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped chives and serve.
I used cavatappi pasta here, because it allows the cheese sauce to stick better, but any pasta shape of your preference will be fine. (Although it’s technically not macaroni and cheese without using macaroni, we don’t really care much as long as the flavor is the same.)
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