Best Homemade Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
Confession time. Until this recipe, I never liked mac and cheese. I know I should be thrown out of the South for saying that, but wait, this homemade macaroni and cheese recipe changed my mind.
The problem I’ve had with macaroni and cheese is too often, there’s no there there. I’ve left it on plates in restaurants for being too milky, too flavorless or too dry.
This best homemade macaroni and cheese recipe works, and is so good. Wear stretchy pants; you’ll eat seconds.
The recipe also has a story. My mom, Retro Rose, cut the recipe out of the Tennessean and saved it for years. She came over one day and we made it together. To my great surprise, it was fabulous. I looked at the name and behold, it was from a Nashville friend and fellow blogger, Beth Sachan. That really made me smile, which is funny because her blog is called Eat.Drink.Smile.
I played a little bit with the original recipe as it was super rich, but it’s still gooey good.
It’s not the the first time my mind has been changed by food. I used to hate kale and now I have numerous kale recipes showing how wonderful it can be.
Sometimes people think they know themselves, but we are not an inanimate object; we are a living organism and we change our sleep patterns, our hairstyles, the size of our shoe heels, and the color of our lipstick. We also change our eating minds about what we like and don’t like. It’s all about exposure and that right moment.
My husband hated red wine until we accidentally found ourselves in the middle of a Chianti wine festival in Italy. I hated liver until I went to Paris. I hated macaroni and cheese until I moved to the South and had the crispy topped version like the one I’m showing you.
I like when macaroni and cheese is gooey inside, but still intact. It’s such a satisfying bite.
The best homemade macaroni and cheese recipe is not topped with breadcrumbs but instead toasted bread pieces. Trust me. You’ll never make it any other way after you’ve had it like this. It also has to hold together for me to like it. I like gooey instead of runny. This is all that and more.
Turn up the Heat in the Best Homemade Macaroni and Cheese Recipe by Adding Poblano Peppers
I added in some poblano peppers. You can further the heat by substituting one of the cheddar cheeses with a pepper cheese, or leave the heat out altogether.
The tricky part of a good mac n cheese is making the roux. This one is perfect and comes out every time.
Now that I am a big mac and cheese fan, be prepared for numerous versions, because I tend to geek out like that. I do have one mac and cheese appetizer here. You can save some of this for that.
Save the leftovers to make these mac n cheese nacho party bites.
So tell me, is there something you love eating now that you used to hate?
- 1 pound of elbow macaroni
- 2 tablespoons salt for macaroni water
- 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 8 ounces white cheddar cheese ( see notes)
- 4 ounces gruyere
- 4 cups half and half (or whole milk)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 6 tablespoons flour
- 1 poblano pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 4 slices tuscan type bread, cut into one inch cubes (or use heavy farmhouse bread).
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Cook elbow macaroni in large pot of boiling salted water, until tender but firm to the bite, stirring occasionally.
- Add in the poblano pepper into the boiling water and allow to blanch for four minutes, until nearly soft.
- Remove pepper to cool.
- Once macaroni is done, drain and set aside, adding in a tablespoon of butter and stirring.
- Once poblano pepper has cooled, trim stem, seed and dice into very small pieces.
- Using a medium sized, heavy duty sauce pan, warm the milk and cream together with the cayenne pepper, black pepper, and nutmeg.
- In a separate high sided frying pan or dutch oven pan, melt 4 tablespoons butter on medium low heat.
- Add the flour and continue to stir constantly with a whisk, until a roux has formed, about one minute. It will be smooth and thick.
- Add the warmed half and half to the roux.
- Continue to cook on medium heat until the mixture is thick, about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Remove from heat. Add cheeses to the roux, reserving ½ cup cheese for the top.
- Spray your baking pan. Add poblano to macaroni.
- Put the drained macaroni into the pan.
- Mix cheese sauce and macaroni.
- Toast slices of tuscan bread cubes in oven until lightly toasted.
- Add on top of macaroni and cheese.
- Bake until bubbly about 30 minutes. Check at 15 minutes. If top is getting to browned, lightly top with foil.
- This will make (1) 13 x 9.
If you do not use the poblano peppers, add in a ⅛ teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg. Keep the cayenne pepper.