Main Dish · Meatless Monday

Homemade Mac & Cheese

Homemade Mac & Cheese

This is the cheesiest, stick-to-your-ribs-iest, comfort-food mac & cheese you’ll ever make. It’s not health food, that’s for sure, but is it ever delicious! MyNetDiary gives it a D, no doubt for the high fat, which is nearly all saturated. This recipe makes a lot. You’ll serve 8 – 10 as a main dish, 12 – 14 as a side. Assuming, of course you can actually stop after 1 serving! As delicious as it is right when you make it, it tastes even better the next day & freezes really well. The key is to not fully cook the macaroni before assembly. That way, as it absorbs liquid from the sauce, it doesn’t get mushy. If you can get Cabot’s Seriously Sharp Cheddar cheese where you live, do try it in this recipe. It’s really rich & flavorful. If you can’t get any, and don’t want to move to Vermont or its neighbors, just get the sharpest cheddar you can find. I don’t advise using lower-fat cheese. You could, and I have, but it ends up being a bit bland for my tastes. I’d rather make this just once or twice a year, and use the real thing. You might be surprised to see tomatoes in here. Interestingly, there is no tomato flavor whatsoever, as far as I and my chief testers can tell. The tomatoes just deepen the flavor and add a bit of extra savoriness, as well as being pretty! You’ll find a printer-friendly version of the recipe at the bottom of this page.

Ingredients:

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2 lbs Cabot Seriously Sharp cheddar cheese

⅔ cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese

1 large or 2 small shallots

4 slices white bread

4 cups milk (I used skim, because that’s what I had, but you can use any kind)

8 Tbsp butter (1 stick), divided

¼ cup flour

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 (14½ oz.) can no salt added petite diced tomatoes, undrained

1 lb uncooked macaroni

Preparation:

1.) Put your cheese in the freezer for a few minutes while you get everything ready. (Makes it easier to grate.) Preheat the oven to 350° F.

2.) Finely chop the shallot; set aside. Roughly tear the bread slices into quarters, and place in the bowl of food processor. Pulse until the bread is uniformly crumbly; set aside. Warm the milk in the microwave; set aside. You’re not looking for hot, just warm.

3.) Melt 4 Tbsp of the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the minced shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and starting to turn a light brown, about 5 minutes.

4.) Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly. It just needs a minute to cook the raw flour taste off, but a tad longer will get you some nice browning. Don’t let it scorch, though.

5.) Reduce heat. Working in batches, gradually whisk in the warmed milk. At first it will seem hopelessly thick, but it will lump less if you do add the milk slowly. Be sure to whisk out any lumps with each addition. Cook, whisking frequently, until slightly thickened, about 5 – 10 minutes, being careful not to let it boil.

6.) While sauce cooks, remove the cheddar from the freezer and grate; set aside. If you have a food processor with a grating attachment, this is a much easier task. Without mine, I’d be tempted to just buy shredded cheddar, even though it would mean sacrificing the magnificent flavor of the Cabot Seriously Sharp. Two pounds is a lot of cheese to grate by hand!

7.) Stir the tomatoes (with their juice) and the pepper into the sauce, and mix well.

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8.) Add the parmesan, and stir until well combined & mostly melted. Add the shredded cheddar in 3 batches, stirring well between each addition. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cheeses melt, about 5 minutes. The sauce at this stage looks a little watery & grainy, but it won’t stay that way once it’s baked. Keep warm.

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9.) Cook the macaroni about a minute or two less than the package directs for al dente. You don’t need any fat or salt in the water. Drain very well. Remove the sauce from the heat; stir in the macaroni. Pour into baking dishes (two 8 x 8”, or one 13 x 9” plus a smaller dish). It still looks watery, I know. Don’t worry, the macaroni will absorb the extra liquid along with the flavor.

10.) Melt the remaining butter in a small pan over medium heat.  Add the bread crumbs & stir gently, until evenly coated. When you stir, think of the up motion as being the one that does the job. Slip your fork under the crumbs, lift up, & turn over.This will help keep them fluffy. Stirring round & round like you might with soup will just compact them. As you stir, gently break up any lumps with the tines of the fork. Sprinkle over the dishes and bake until bubbly and the top is golden, about 30 minutes.

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nutritionlabel

Homemade Mac & Cheese


Ingredients


2 lbs Cabot Seriously Sharp cheddar cheese
⅔ cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1 large or 2 small shallots
4 slices white bread
4 cups milk
8 Tbsp butter (1 stick), divided
¼ cup flour
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 (14½ oz.) can no salt added petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1 lb uncooked macaroni

Directions

1.) Put your cheese in the freezer for a few minutes while you get everything ready. (Makes it easier to grate.) Preheat the oven to 350° F.
2.) Finely chop the shallot; set aside. Roughly tear the bread slices into quarters, and place in the bowl of food processor. Pulse until the bread is uniformly crumbly; set aside. Warm the milk in the microwave; set aside. You’re not looking for hot, just warm.
3.) Melt 4 Tbsp of the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the minced shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and starting to turn a light brown, about 5 minutes.
4.) Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly. It just needs a minute to cook the raw flour taste off, but a tad longer will get you some nice browning. Don’t let it scorch, though.
5.) Reduce heat. Working in batches, gradually whisk in the warmed milk. At first it will seem hopelessly thick, but it will lump less if you do add the milk slowly. Be sure to whisk out any lumps with each addition. Cook, whisking frequently, until slightly thickened, about 5 – 10 minutes, being careful not to let it boil.
6.) While sauce cooks, remove the cheddar from the freezer and grate; set aside. If you have a food processor with a grating attachment, this is a much easier task. Without mine, I’d be tempted to just buy shredded cheddar, even though it would mean sacrificing the magnificent flavor of the Cabot Seriously Sharp. Two pounds is a lot of cheese to grate by hand!
7.) Stir the tomatoes (with their juice) and the pepper into the sauce, and mix well.
8.) Add the parmesan, and stir until well combined & mostly melted. Add the shredded cheddar in 3 batches, stirring well between each addition. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cheeses melt, about 5 minutes. The sauce at this stage looks a little watery & grainy, but it won’t stay that way once it’s baked. Keep warm.
9.) Cook the macaroni about a minute or two less than the package directs for al dente. You don’t need any fat or salt in the water. Drain very well. Remove the sauce from the heat; stir in the macaroni. Pour into baking dishes (two 8 x 8”, or one 13 x 9” plus a smaller dish). It still looks watery, I know. Don’t worry, the macaroni will absorb the extra liquid along with the flavor.
10.) Melt the remaining butter in a small pan over medium heat.  Add the bread crumbs & stir gently, until evenly coated. When you stir, think of the up motion as being the one that does the job. Slip your fork under the crumbs, lift up, & turn over.This will help keep them fluffy. Stirring round & round like you might with soup will just compact them. As you stir, gently break up any lumps with the tines of the fork. Sprinkle over the dishes and bake until bubbly and the top is golden, about 30 minutes.

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