Growing up in New York we never had macaroni and cheese as a side dish at our Thanksgiving dinner table. It wasn’t until I got older that I even realized that this was an option! As it turns out, many families (especially in the southern states) make a delicious (often baked) macaroni and cheese dish as an optional side for Thanksgiving dinner. After learning this, I knew I had to share it with the world (or at least everyone that was as oblivious as I was).
Creamy Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese
- 1 lb. dried elbow pasta
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 2 1/2 cups half and half
- 4 cups grated medium sharp cheddar cheese – divided (measured after grating)
- 2 cups grated Gruyere cheese – divided (measured after grating)
- 1/2 Tbsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1/4 tsp. paprika
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and grease a 3 qt baking dish (9×13″). Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When boiling, add dried pasta and cook 1 minute less than the package directs for al dente. Drain and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil to keep from sticking.
- While water is coming up to a boil, grate cheeses and toss together to mix, then divide into three piles. Approximately 3 cups for the sauce, 1 1/2 cups for the inner layer, and 1 1/2 cups for the topping.
- Melt butter in a large saucepan over MEDIUM heat. Sprinkle in flour and whisk to combine. The mixture will look like very wet sand. Cook for approximately 1 minute, whisking often. Slowly pour in about 2 cups or so of the milk/half and half, while whisking constantly, until smooth. Slowly pour in the remaining milk/half and half, while whisking constantly, until combined and smooth.
- Continue to heat over MEDIUM heat, whisking very often, until thickened to a very thick consistency. It should almost be the consistency of a semi thinned out condensed soup.
- Remove from the heat and stir in spices and 1 1/2 cups of the cheeses, stirring to melt and combine. Stir in another 1 1/2 cups of cheese, and stir until completely melted and smooth.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine drained pasta with cheese sauce, stirring to combine fully. Pour half of the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish. Top with 1 1/2 cups of grated cheeses, then top that with the remaining pasta mixture.
- Sprinkle the top with the last 1 1/2 cups of cheese and bake for 15 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and lightly golden brown.
Truffle Mac n Cheese (individual ramekin style)
- Cooking spray
- 8 oz elbow macaroni
- 3 teaspoons truffle oil, divided
- 8 oz sliced baby portobello
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 (15-oz) jar mushroom Alfredo sauce
- 2 cups shredded Italian-blend cheese, divided
- 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bring water to boil for pasta. Coat inside of 8 (8-oz) ramekins with spray; place ramekins on baking sheet for ease in handling. Cook pasta following package instructions. Drain pasta; transfer to a large bowl and toss with 1 teaspoon truffle oil.
- Preheat a large, nonstick sauté pan on medium 1–2 minutes. Place 1 teaspoon truffle oil, mushrooms, and thyme in a pan; cook 4–5 minutes or until mushrooms are golden.
- Stir in Alfredo sauce; simmer 3–4 minutes to blend flavors. Combine cheeses. Remove pan from heat. Stir in 3 cups of cheese until melted and smooth.
- Stir mushroom mixture into pasta until blended. Spoon mixture into ramekins (about 1 cup each). Top with remaining 1 cup cheese; bake 12–14 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly. Drizzle remaining 1 teaspoon oil over top; serve.