My niece, Katie, is an afficianada of macaroni and cheese – Ernest Hemingway didn’t know gin cocktails the way Katie knows pasta and cheddar. This is the stupidly simple recipe that earned me the coveted “Aunt Lucy makes the BEST mac & cheese!” award for excellence. The sauce also tastes really yumtastic on steamed broccoli.
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 heaping tablespoons spreadable cream cheese or half of a 3 ounce block, cut in small cubes
8 ounces dry macaroni
salt and pepper to taste
Cook the macaroni per package instructions. While it’s cooking, grate the cheese – I know, you can buy it pre-grated, and if you have to hurry back to watching the red button on the nuclear missile silo, by all means, use that; otherwise, don’t ruin your mac & cheese. Drain your macaroni.
Melt butter in a pot big enough for your finished dish over medium high heat. Whisk in flour until it forms a smooth yellow paste. Add milk, whisking constantly, and keep whisking until it thickens and bubbles. Do not panic if your paste lumps up in the beginning, just keep whisking; it will smooth out. (Some recipes for white sauce, which is what this is at this point, say you need to heat the milk first; I haven’t found that to be true, though I suppose it would probably thicken faster.) Whisk in cheese by handfuls, reserving about one handful, keep whisking until it melts completely. Repeat with the cream cheese.
Stir in macaroni until smooth. Add the last handful of cheese, stir until melted and stringy. Salt and pepper to taste.
Makes 6-8 side dish servings, 4-5 main course servings.