Mac ‘n’ cheese is an American staple! It is one of the most convenient, but tastiest foods you can make, pleasing all ages. Unfortunately, we are often disappointed with premade mac ‘n’ cheese, with it being too bland or worse- dry and gritty; when all we really want is fluffy pasta, smothered in a creamy, velvety cheese sauce, not forgetting the light, but perfect, crunchy topping. We want the type of mac ‘n’ cheese that is so good that we are scared to start eating it, in fear we might not stop!
Here are some top tips on creating the creamiest, dreamiest mac ‘n’ cheese you can find:
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1. Classic Cheddar Is The Way To Go!
A lot of recipes or premade packages of mac ‘n’ cheese call for lots of different fancy cheeses and multiple kinds of cheese in general. It seems to take away the classic flavor of what mac ‘n’ cheese actually is- sometimes, simple is better! Classic mac ‘n’ cheese usually uses a simple, but tasty cheese like cheddar. Cheddar gives back the iconic taste of macaroni and cheese, along with a hint of parmesan. The parm combines with the cheddar, giving it a nutty flavor, but working well with the cheddar instead of distracting its flavor. It is also recommended you shred your own cheese as well, as there are usually added things that make ready-shredded cheese drier with less flavor.
2. Add Cream For A Super Rich Sauce
This is quite possibly one of the most important stages to ensure the creamiest mac ‘n’ cheese. It is common to add a basic white sauce such as béchamel. However, béchamel doesn’t really give the creaminess we are looking for- but milk and cream does! Trying a combination of milk and cream will change your life! It adds such an indulgent texture, making your mouth water with every bite. Whisking your cheese throughout the process is another recommendation, it will ensure the cheesiest sauce possible.
3. Add A Dash Of Mustard Powder
It may seem unusual to be adding mustard to mac ‘n’ cheese, but it really boosts the flavor, all while staying undetectable! You can use a number of spices when making this dish, but mustard powder gives that perfect, mouthwatering addition that is needed to bring out the cheddar in the best way possible.
4. Using Garlic Breadcrumbs For That Extra Burst Of Flavor!
Adding that extra layer to the top of our mac ‘n’ cheese gives us this extra amazing flavor with the light and crunchy texture needed. Many just use plain breadcrumbs, but using garlic breadcrumbs will infuse the flavor like no other.
5. A Simple, But Easily Missed Trick
This step is easily forgotten, but so important- seasoning your mac ‘n’ cheese. Seasoning in three steps will ensure the right amount of seasoning all throughout your dish and gives it just the right amount of kick. It is always best to add your seasoning (such as salt and pepper) while making the topping, the sauce, and the macaroni.
You may love to add extras such as bacon or lobster, but this creamy macaroni and cheese alone is more than enough! It simply melts in your mouth.
Cooked bacon adds smoky flavor to the cheese and bread crumb topping in this flavorful and creamy macaroni and cheese casserole. Feel free to make it without the addition of green onions. I thought they went well with the bacon flavor, but if you’re not a fan of onions, you can leave them out. Serve this macaroni and cheese with sliced tomatoes or a tossed salad for a satisfying family meal.
- 8 ounces elbow macaroni, about 2 cups dry
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced
- dash garlic powder
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 cups milk
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 6 slices bacon, cooked, drained, crumbled
- 2 cups (8 ounces) sharp Cheddar cheese, divided
- 1 cup soft bread crumbs
- 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons butter, melted
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Yield: 4 to 6 Servings
Cook macaroni in boiling salted water following package directions. Drain the macaroni in a colander, rinse with hot water, and set aside.
Heat oven to 350° F (180° C/Gas 4). Lightly grease a 2 1/2-quart baking dish.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the 3 tablespoons of butter. Add the green onions and garlic powder. Cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Add the flour and stir until well blended and smooth.
Continue cooking, stirring, for 2 minutes. Gradually add the milk and cook, stirring, until thickened. Stir in salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
Set 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese aside and stir the remaining 1 1/2 cups of cheese into the sauce. Continue cooking and stirring until the cheese has melted.
Combine the cheese sauce with the drained macaroni and then spoon the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle bacon evenly over the casserole and then top with the reserved 1/2 cup of cheese.
Toss the bread crumbs with 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of melted butter and sprinkle over the casserole. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until lightly browned and bubbly.
Most cheese connoisseurs cringe at the thought of processed cheeses. Think of Kraft singles, Laughing Cow, or Velveeta. Most of us loved such cheeses when we were kids, we always made sure Mom grabbed some at the grocery store. So why do they offend our adult palates? Labels that contain the name “cheese food” don’t make them sound any more appetizing either.
Processed cheeses are made with some natural cheeses, but usually contain other unfermented dairy products as well as chemical emulsifiers like sodium phosphate and citrate to circumvent the aging process necessary to produce most natural cheeses. Normally processed cheeses are medium firm, have a very mild flavor, and a consistently smooth texture.
Processed cheeses are often criticized for having a small range of flavors and textures and for potential health effects associated with the use of trans-fats, chemical preservatives, and artificial colorings. But like anything else, the health risks are negligible when these items are consumed in moderation, and these types of cheeses also offer many advantages.
Being cheese enthusiasts ourselves, we originally began stocking certain processed cheeses in order to satisfy our customers who requested them. But there has been a recent surge in the acceptance of many of these processed cheeses amongst the culinary community. The consistency of processed cheeses enables them to melt much more smoothly than natural cheeses, which tend to separate and pool after prolonged heating. They also have a much longer shelf life and the shortened production process lowers their cost significantly. This makes them ideal for use in cooking.
Some dishes call for only the finest natural cheeses, but many do not. It would be unusual for a chef to use a top shelf wine or liqueur to cook with. The same goes for cheese in many cases. This came to our attention when Jim Kennedy, a customer and friend of ours who also happens to be a retired chef ordered some horseradish cheese from us. He specialized in classic French cuisine and had been an apprentice to the first American-born Master Chef, Richard Schneider. So his opinion carried a lot of credibility with us. He shared his ideas for incorporating the horseradish cheese into high-end cuisine with us: “We melted it into mashed potatoes and it was superb. We melted it into Alfredo sauce and it was wonderful. We baked it into a quiche and it was sensational. We baked it with macaroni and it was incredible. In the future we intend to combine it with the smoked bacon cheese in all the above.” he said “We were afraid it would be tame for mainstream palates, but we were pleasantly surprised.”
That brought us to the most important benefit of processed cheeses: they come in a very diverse array of flavors. Besides horseradish, processed cheeses come in flavors like bacon, pepperoni, garden onion, Bermuda onion, hot pepper, super hot pepper, caraway, and even Southwestern Salsa. We also offer smoked varieties of many of these. Of course American cheese is the archetype of processed cheeses, but we also offer Sharp (aged) American, which is probably our best-selling processed cheese because few other cheese stores offer it. All of these flavors make excellent additions to simple or complex recipes. We were very impressed with the zing the Bermuda onion cheese added to our burgers!
So while most cheese aficionados will wrinkle there noses at the mere mention of processed cheeses, we have now found some very sophisticated uses for them. Of course, if the cheese is offered by itself or used as a finishing element for a fine dining recipe, natural cheeses are best. But processed cheeses can be excellent ingredients in complex recipes and add zesty variations to simple ones.
When most of us think of Macaroni and Cheese, we can not get past the image of the plastic bag of miniature elbow noodles and orange powder that we prepare for our kids. Thankfully, a generation of fans of that boxed concoction have now grown up and invented many delectable variations that are more compatible with the mature palate. Creativity knows few bounds, and the variations are countless. But after experimenting with numerous combinations, we found this to be the creamiest, most flavorful Mac and Cheese recipe yet. Save the elbow noodles and orange powder for the kids.
- 16 Ounces of penne or seashell pasta
- 2 ½ Tablespoons of Butter (we recommend Fresh Amish Butter)
- 2 Tablespoons of all-purpose flour
- 2 cups of milk
- 4 Ounces of Grated Smoked Gouda cheese
- 4 Ounces of Grated Medium-Sharp Orange Cheddar cheese
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- ¼ teaspoon of ground white pepper
- Dash of garlic powder
- 1 cup of breadcrumbs
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees (190 degrees C). Lightly grease a 10-inch casserole dish.
- Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to a boil, add pasta and cook for about 8-10 minutes until tender; drain.
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook until it is consistent. Stir in the milk, salt, pepper, and garlic. Simmer, stirring constantly until sauce is thick and smooth enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in both cheeses.
- Combine finished pasta and cheese sauce. Transfer to prepared casserole dish.
- Spread breadcrumbs over top. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes or until heated through.
Makes 8 servings.