Mac and cheese is a comfort food classic that everyone loves! While perfectly acceptable to make with a store bought box, why not take it a step further and make the dish from scratch? Making mac and cheese from scratch is surprisingly easy and will result in a delectable and satisfying meal that your entire family will love. Read on for a step-by-step guide to making delicious mac and cheese from scratch.
Preparing the Ingredients
Making mac and cheese from scratch requires a few simple ingredients that can be found in any grocery store. For four servings you’ll need: 8 ounces of elbow macaroni, 3 cups of milk, 2 tablespoons of butter, 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons of mustard, 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt, 8 ounces of grated sharp cheddar cheese, 1 cup of panko bread crumbs, and an optional 1/4 cup of fresh grated parmesan cheese.
Making the Cheese Sauce
To begin making the cheese sauce, place a medium saucepan on the stovetop over medium heat and melt the butter in it. Once the butter has melted, whisk in the flour until it is smoothly incorporated and begins to foam, which should take roughly one minute. Next, pour in the milk, whisking continuously until the mixture is smooth and begins to simmer. Once the mixture is simmering, add the mustard, salt, and cheddar cheese and continue whisking until the cheese is melted and the sauce is thickened, roughly five minutes.
Baking the Macaroni
Preheat the oven to 375°F and bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Then, add the macaroni and cook for about seven minutes or until al dente. Once cooked, drain the macaroni and add it to the pot with the cheese sauce. Stir everything together until the macaroni is evenly coated with sauce.
Adding the Toppings
In a small bowl, combine the panko bread crumbs and parmesan cheese, if using. Then, spread the coated macaroni in an even layer into a greased 9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle the panko/parmesan topping over the macaroni and bake in the preheated oven for fifteen minutes, or until the top is golden and bubbly.
Plating the Dish
Let the mac and cheese sit for about five minutes before plating. Sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley and serve with a side salad or your favorite vegetable.
Enjoying Homemade Mac & Cheese
Once the dish is plated, enjoy your tasty homemade mac and cheese! It will be warm, creamy, full of flavor, and perfect comfort food. The sharp cheddar cheese is softened and mellower with the addition of creamy milk, while the combination of mustard and breadcrumbs provide texture and crunch.
Serving Suggestions for Mac & Cheese
For an even heartier meal, you can make it a full dinner by adding cooked, crumbled bacon and/or diced ham to the cheese sauce right before baking. Or, stir in cooked vegetables such as broccoli, peppers, and mushrooms for an upgraded veggie version.
Tips for Customizing Mac & Cheese
To switch things up, use Monterey Jack, gruyere, or white cheddar cheese instead of yellow cheddar, and try different types of mustard like Dijon or grainy. For spice, sprinkle in some paprika or cayenne pepper for a hint of heat.
To wrap things up, making mac and cheese from scratch is a fun and simple way to enjoy this delicious dish. All you need is a few basic ingredients and a few minutes of your time, and you’ll have one of the most comforting dishes for your family to enjoy. Enjoy!