This is not how I typically make my cheesy macaroni & cheese. This recipe happened because of what I had on hand. Normally, I prefer to make my macaroni & cheese with Brie, Gouda, Vermont cheddar, Mild Cheddar, Gruyere, Mozzarella cheese, Muenster cheese, and Colby Jack. In my opinion, macaroni and cheese is best whenever you use the expensive cheeses. Although, this isn’t my typical recipe for macaroni & cheese (I will be posting that very soon!), it’s still just as delicious. Whenever I don’t feel like spending $50+ dollars to make my regular macaroni recipe, I go for this one..
On Thanksgiving, my mother decided she wasn’t making her delicious macaroni. And, I just wasn’t having that! What is Thanksgiving without macaroni and cheese? She made cheesy potatoes instead, which were delicious! But, cheesy potatoes cannot compete with cheesy macaroni & cheese!
When it come to making cheesy macaroni & cheese, I want it extra creamy. I don’t want it dry. There shouldn’t be way too many seasonings. I do not want yogurt, cream cheese, mayo, eggs, or any other weird ingredient placed in my macaroni. I enjoy macaroni with bacon, seafood, poultry, etc; but I do not typically make those dishes. I serve macaroni for my family as a side dish, not a main dish. When you begin to add all of those extra ingredients to macaroni, it’s no longer a side dish.
How to make cheesy macaroni & cheese:
First, I urge you to make a roux! I don’t quite understand people that throw the pasta into a pan and then top it with milk and cheese. That is just beyond laziness! Macaroni and cheese is simple to make and doesn’t require all of those extra steps. Making a roux is much faster than it takes for you to blend that egg into that cream cheese. Just stop, please. Ha. I make my roux with flour, butter, and a mix of half/half and buttermilk.
Next, I want to tell you that the more expensive the cheese; the better! I was in a time pinch for this recipe, so I had to stop at Walmart to purchase the cheeses for this recipe. No shade to Kraft cheese, but their cheese just isn’t as good as fresh cheese. The taste difference is insane. Go to your local farmer’s market or even Trader Joe’s to get some quality cheese.
So, it’s definitely important to mention that I shredded the cheese myself. There’s a major difference between using bagged shredded cheese and shredding it yourself. When you shred the cheese yourself, it melts way better due to it not having that wax coating that’s on bagged shredded cheese.
Lastly, I want to mention that you should stop buying elbow macaroni noodles. Macaroni is so much better when you use cavatappi! The noodles are thicker and larger. Elbow macaroni is for the kids!
Cheesy Macaroni & Cheese
- 2 lb Cavatappi
- 1/2 stick Earth Balance Butter
- 1/2 cup All Purpose Flour
- 2 cups Half & Half
- 2 cups Buttermilk
- 3 cups Mild Cheddar (block of cheese, not pre-shredded)
- 2 cup Vermont Cheddar (block of cheese, not pre-shredded)
- 2 cups Colby Jack (block of cheese, not pre-shredded)
- 2 cup Monterey Jack (block of cheese, not pre-shredded)
- 1 tsp Nutritional Yeast
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
- 1/4 tsp Paprika
- 1 tsp Herbs de Provence
- 1 tsp Dry Mustard Powder
- 1/4 cup Reserved Pasta Water, optional
- Cooking Spray, for spraying
- Olive Oil, for pasta
- Before you begin to make this recipe, start shredding all of your cheese. Do not use pre-bagged cheese. If you do not have time to shred each block of cheese, add your cheeses to a food processor and allow the food processor to shred the cheese for you.
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a baking dish (I recommend a lasagna pan) with cooking spray. Using a paper towel, wipe off any excess cooking spray.
- Boil your pasta according to instructions on the package. Remember to salt your water, the water should have enough salt so that it tastes like the ocean. Once done, save 1/4 cup of the water from the pasta and then drain. Place in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil to keep from sticking and set aside.
- Heat a dutch oven or pot to medium/high heat and add your butter. Allow the butter to foam for one minute.
- Once the butter has foamed, add your flour to the butter. Stir until a paste has formed. Once the paste has formed, allow the butter and flour to combine and cook for one minute.
- After the butter and follow has formed a paste, add one cup of half & half/buttermilk at a time and whisk. Continue to whisk until it thickens. Once the milk has thickened, add your seasonings. Continue to whisk. If the roux is way too thick for your liking, add a little bit of pasta at a time to receive your desired texture. I don’t add the pasta water since I like it thick.
- Reduce the heat to medium/low heat and then proceed to add your cheeses. Begin with adding 2 cups of mild cheddar and then whisk, 1 cup of Vermont cheddar and then whisk, 1 cup Colby of Jack and then whisk, and 1 cup of Monterey Jack and then whisk. Continue to whisk until the color of the roux has changed from white to yellow. Taste the sauce and see if you need to some more of the left over cheese.
- Once all of the cheese has melted, add your nutritional yeast. This part is optional, but this adds an extra cheesy flavor to the macaroni. Turn the heat off once everything has combined.
- Add your cavatappi to the baking dish and then proceed to cover the cavatappi with the cheese sauce. The cheese sauce should cover all of the pasta. Top with all of the left over cheese that you have. The cheese should completely cover the pasta.
- Bake in the oven at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. Wait 10-15 minutes before serving.
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