Thursday, September 6, 2012

Mac and cheese

Macaroni and Cheese.  I know some people hear that and they just see a box of Kraft Mac and Cheese. When my family hears Mac and Cheese - they see a huge pan hot out of the oven.  That's right.  It may be made with the plainest of all the cheeses, but it makes the most decadent of all Mac and Cheese.

My mom and aunt found a recipe for Macaroni and Cheese years ago in a Betty Crocker Book.  If I remember correctly, the recipe had a number of steps, including layering the cheese sauce with the macaroni.  Instead, they decided that mixing the the sauce and the macaroni was sufficient.  And trust me, it really is sufficient.

So this is not a Mac and Cheese that you'll want to make for dinner.  This is a party mac and cheese and two lbs goes a LONG way (I mentioned in Monday Matters that we made it this weekend for a little Labor Day get together and it made so much that we sent everyone home with leftovers)....So here goes!

The Ingredients
2 lbs Cellentani or Cavatappi macaroni
1 stick butter
1/2 cup onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup flour
1/2 gallon milk (I usually use 2%)
2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 pounds Land o Lakes American Cheese, shredded (Yes - 3 lbs.  And it HAS to be Land o Lakes...We've tried it with other cheeses, and it just isn't the same)

For the topping:
3-4 Tbsp melted butter
1 sleeve ritz crackers, crushed

All of the shredded cheese - you can use either a box grater or the attachments on the food processor - and the ritz and macaroni

The Method

  • Set a big pot of water to boil for the macaroni.  While the water is heating up, do the following:

  • Melt the butter in a large pot and add in the onions to saute
  • When the onion is softened, add in the flour and stir continuously.
  • When the flour mixture starts to bubble, slowly stir in the milk, salt, and pepper
  • Stir continuously on medium-high heat, and once the milk has warmed up a bit (it should be warm to the touch but not anywhere close to boiling), add in the shredded American Cheese

  • Stir until creamy.  You shouldn't see any strings of cheese left in the mixture.  Lower the heat and continue stirring until the water has come to a boil, and the macaroni has been cooked until al dente (You need to stir the mixture the entire time, otherwise it will stick to the bottom of the pan.  Also, you do NOT want the macaroni cooked all the way here, because it needs to bake and it will be too mushy if overcooked).   When you're ready to strain the macaroni, just take the cheese mixture completely off the heat.

Add the drained macaroni to a baking pan (I use the throw-away foil pans) and pour the cheese mixture on top.  Mix everything together  (You can put the drained macaroni back in the pot, and add all of the cheese sauce there, and then transfer everything into the foil pan....Do whatever is easiest for you!!)

Top the Mac and Cheese with crushed ritz cracker crumbs (about 1 sleeve) that have been mixed with melted butter (about 3-4 Tablespoons)

Bake covered for 45 minutes at 375*.  Unover, then bake an additional 15 minutes until the crumb topping is golden brown.

Let the Mac and Cheese set for at least 15-30 minutes before serving.

A delicious serving of Macaroni and Cheese, just waiting to be eaten!!!
Note:  Assuming 20 servings (which is a VERY generous portion):
Per Serving:  500Calories * 44 Carbs * 28 Fat * 21 Protein * 2 Fiber * 1133 Sodium

Now that's what I call a cookout!!!


  1. This looks fantastic! I remember you sharing your mom's mac and cheese recipe with me back in high school! I think I still have it typed up on my computer somewhere, haha. PS You should put the ritz and melted butter into the main list of ingredients so people will know how much they need when they are buying/gathering their ingredients. PPS We really must get together soon and do some cooking and eating :-D

    1. Thanks! And thanks for the input!! I already updated the post and included the topping ingredients into the main list!!! And we definitely need to get together soon and cook!! And eat!! :o)