Easy Mac N Cheese
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
1 1/2 cups small elbow macaroni
3 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese*
1/4 cup flour, divided
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup minced onion
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups milk
2 teaspoons stone ground or spicy brown mustard
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Cook macaroni to al dente according to package directions, making sure not to overcook. Drain well. While macaroni is cooking, place cheese in a medium bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon flour. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes to soften. Stir in remaining 3 tablespoons flour and cook for 1 minute more. Slowly whisk in broth, cooking until smooth. Stir in milk, mustard and salt and bring to a simmer. Working over very low heat, add cheese a little at a time, adding more only when cheese is melted. Season with pepper. Stir cooked macaroni into cheese sauce and cook for a few minutes more. (Mixture will thicken as it stands.)
*Mix up the flavor of this dish by replacing half of the sharp Cheddar cheese with other cheeses. Add Havarti for a creamy, mild flavor, smoked Gouda or smoked Cheddar for a hint of smoky flavor or Gruyere for a rich nutty flavor. For an Italian kick, add Fontina and Parmesan cheeses and some finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes.
Crispy Topped Mac N Cheese
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a small skillet. Add 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts. Cook over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until breadcrumbs are lightly browned, stirring frequently. Sprinkle over mac n cheese.
Instant Pot Preparation:
Do not cook macaroni. Omit flour. Reduce broth to 3/4 cup. Set aside 1/2 cup milk and the cheese. Stir together remaining ingredients in an Instant Pot. Cover and set pressure to high for 4 minutes. When cooking is done, let stand for 10 minutes before releasing pressure. Stir in reserved milk and cheese, stirring until cheese is melted.
Slow Cooker Preparation:
Do not cook macaroni. Omit flour. Reduce milk to 1 1/4 cups and reduce stock or broth to 3/4 cup. Place butter in a slow cooker set to HIGH and cook until melted. Stir in all remaining ingredients except cheese. Cover and cook on LOW for 30 minutes. Slowly stir in cheese; cover and cook for 35 minutes more. Serve immediately.
Make ahead Preparation:
Cook pasta; drain well and toss with a small amount of oil. Prepare cheese sauce. Let cool, then cover and refrigerate both. Just before serving, heat cheese sauce in a medium saucepan. Add cooked macaroni and cook over medium-low heat until heated through, adding additional broth or milk as needed as sauce may be too thick.
© 2021 Patty Mastracco Food, Inc.