I have learned how to cook a few things from memory since I became a mom. Chocolate chip cookies. Chicken nuggets from scratch. The sorts of foods you imagine small children like to eat. So, of course, I’ve also perfected macaroni and cheese.
Although, technically, I don’t even use macaroni. I prefer shell pasta. But it tastes pretty much the same either way so it’s your call. I suppose you could even get really wild and use rigatoni. Or those weird little wagon wheel noodles. I won’t judge you for your pasta preference.
The big obstacle to homemade macaroni and cheese (at least for me) is grating all that cheese. And grating isn’t a task you can do one-handed with a fussy baby on your hip. So I have taken to using my food processor’s grater attachment. It does a passable job, and it saves me a lot of time.
I know that some people like to put bread crumbs on top of their mac ‘n cheese. But I melt shredded cheese on top of mine instead. Because the only thing that can improve a plate of cheesy carbohydrates is more cheese.
So without further ado, here is my finely honed recipe for macaroni and cheese. It’s the only kind my 4-year-old will eat.
Amber’s Mac ‘n Cheese
* Gluten-Free Option
4 Tbsp salted butter
4 Tbsp flour – OR – gluten-free flour blend
1 Tbsp dry mustard
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 1/2 c milk (I prefer 2%)
5 c grated medium cheddar
2 1/2 c dry pasta (gluten-free pastas work fine, as well)
Making the sauce:
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the mustard, pepper, and milk, stirring well. Add 2 1/2 cups of the cheese, and set the rest aside for later.
Stirring the sauce regularly (like every minute or two) heat on medium until it’s thickened.
Meanwhile, while the sauce is thickening:
Cook the dry noodles. And drain them. This part is important or your result will be very watery. 😉
When it’s all done, put the pasta and sauce together in a lightly greased 3 qt casserole dish. Cover with the extra grated cheese. Bake uncovered at 375 F.
If you want to eat it right away, put it in the oven for 15 minutes. Or you can refrigerate and heat later, in which case it needs about 30 minutes.