I brought my most viewed recipe so far over from my lifestyle blog, Britt Lives Life. Enjoy!
I’ve been trying to create a creamy, easy mac and cheese recipe for forever. I wanted something Kraft texture, without the risk of illness. Without powdered cheese or cheese sauce concentrate.
Whatever that is.
Started with bechamel: grainy texture. Strained the bechamel: difficult with way too many steps. AND STILL GRAINY. Tried baking it a tiny bit in the oven, shook my head and asked myself, “Why don’t I just bake it in the first place then?”
Tried just milk and cheese…well, I was getting there. But it was still. flipping. grainy. I was so mad!
Even with this recipe, it became grainy my first try. I finally realized where I’ve faulted: the heat.
Of course, I know that heat will separate the cheese and it becomes grainy. But I need heat to melt it, too! I looked up plenty of articles about cheeses and heat and what temperature to melt cheese at… literally put it down to a dang science. I am a Cheeseologist. Non certified.
The magical factor I was missing was so simple. It was just so, so simple.
I don’t use heat at all after I boil the pasta. Like, none. That’s the magic. Screw the cheese-melting-heat science; residual heat melts it all. Just work swiftly and efficiently.
I use cheddars; extra sharp for the flavor, and mild to help carry the cheddar flavor, along with colby jack. I love colby jack becuse it melts well and gives the sauce a gooey, cheesy texture. The cream cheese smoothes out the sauce, giving it not only a creamier flavor but also a creamier consistency.
Creamy mac and cheese in fifteen minutes, easy as pie. And no oven!!! This is also a great make ahead dish, just heat up and splash a tiny bit of milk in and boom, it’s like you just pulled it off the burner.
Stove-top Mac and Cheese
3 cups elbow pasta
1 1/2 cups cold water
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup milk (whole milk, skim milk, 2% doesn’t matter)
2 tbsp butter
1 oz (or a heaping spoonful) of cream cheese
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded mild cheddar
1/2 cup shredded colby jack
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4-1/2 tsp garlic powder (depending on your tastes)
1/4 tsp dill weed (Yes! It sounds crazy, but it’s so delicious! Adds even more tang.)
Salt and pepper to taste
1. In a large, high sided skillet or medium sized soup pot, pour in first four ingredients. Bring the liquid and pasta to a boil; once to a boil, lower to a simmer until cooked through to your liking (al dente, or just past?). Turn off heat. No more heat after this!
2. By this time, most of the liquid should be evaporated. Let the pasta sit for a minute or two, to absorb any excess liquid. There should still be plenty of liquid in there, but not a lake of it.
3. Toss in the butter, let it melt. Add 1/2 cup of cheeses at a time, making sure to melt all the cheese each time. I like to add the cream cheese at the end of the cheeses, and then pour in the milk to add a more creamy texture. IF you like it the way it is before the milk, leave it be.
4. Season to your liking, especially with the salt and pepper. If the sauce seems a little too loose, it will set up as it sits. If you let it sit, and it’s still too runny, add a little cornstarch slurry to it.