So I’m on a comfort food kick, apparently. But can you blame me?
Homemade Macaroni and Cheese
- 4 Tablespoons butter unsalted
- 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt or 3/4 teaspoon table salt
- 8 oz shredded cheddar or colby jack cheese
- 1 pound pasta of your choice (we like rotini)
- Preheat oven to 400 °F.
- Cook pasta according to package instructions (al dente is best since the sauce will soak into the pasta and you don’t want it to get mushy).
- While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a small pot over medium heat, and whisk in the flour to make a roux.
- Cook for about 1 minute, then slowly add milk and whisk well.
- Whisk in garlic powder, salt and paprika. Cook until it starts to bubble and thicken, about 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in cheese.
- Mix together cooked pasta and cheese sauce and transfer to a buttered, oven safe dish.
- Bake, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes until top is browned and crispy.
For more cheesy goodness, check out our Broccoli Cheese Soup recipe!
Amusing True Backstory
Sometimes real life is funnier than fiction, so I’m going to start with the real backstory to this.
I grew up with my mom making this on a regular basis – it’s what I think of when I think of macaroni and cheese. We’d only occasionally get the boxed version, and it was sub-par in my opinion. But, I make the box version a lot for my kiddos, so that’s what they’re more used to. I decide to make this for my kids, and here’s how it goes:
Kids: What’s for dinner?
Me: Macaroni and cheese!
Kids: Yay!! Yum!! Our favorite!
I serve dinner.
Kids: What is this?
Me: Macaroni and cheese.
Kids: No it isn’t.
Me: Yes, it is. It’s homemade! I made it myself!
Kids (without taking a bite): It’s yucky. I don’t like it.
Me: Just try it. It’s good!
Kids: We like the box kind. We want that.
Me: This is dinner.
Kids: We don’t want this kind!
I have since discovered a trick – they like it, and will eat it, if I make it with different noodles than elbow macaroni. Or shells, since their favorite box version uses shells. I had to call it cheesy pasta for a while, but now we’ve agreed that “mac cheese” is the box and “macaroni and cheese” is the homemade kind.
It’s also possible that they inherited one of my more annoying traits, namely that I think different shapes of pasta taste different. Like, I know logically, it’s all the same stuff, but there are just certain pastas you use for certain foods and you can’t convince me otherwise. Anyway, I typically make this with rotini, but you can use elbow macaroni, fusili, rotini, shells, really any pasta that has a shape that helps it hold on to lots of sauce. I used a fancy type of pasta that I can’t remember the name of for the batch I made for the picture – it came in a variety pack from Costco.
Obligatory Fictional Backstory:
I started making this macaroni and cheese in humble surroundings, namely in a small barn on an Amish farm. After a hard day’s work of milking the cows, churning my own butter, harvesting and grinding the wheat to make flour which I then made into homemade pasta, I discovered that my cheddar cheese that had been aging in a cave for the past three years was finally ready!
I knew I wanted to make something special with all of my strenuously prepared ingredients, but what? I thought and thought, then decided that the best thing to do would be to make a delicious creamy cheese sauce, lightly flavored with garlic and salt, to serve with my pasta. And thus, MACARONI AND CHEESE was born! Passing travelers tried it and stole my recipe, marketing it for profit rather than giving it to the hard working people who deserved its cheesy goodness.
Now, I am sharing my recipe with the world so that all of you wonderful people can make it yourself at home rather than giving your money to evil corporations! I highly recommend getting your own Jersey cow to make the butter and cheese, as their milk has the highest fat content and fat = flavor!