Famous Baked Mac & Cheese
This dish is to die for! Literally. For the past two years I have been in charge of making the macaroni and cheese for our Thanksgiving feast.
What you'll need:
1 lb. of dried elbow pasta
1/2 a cup of unsalted butter (1 stick)
1/2 a cup of all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups of whole milk
2 1/2 cups of half and half
4 cups of grated medium sharp cheddar cheese (I didn't use sharp)
2 cups of grated Gruyere cheese
1/2 tbsp. of salt
1/2 tsp. of black pepper
1/4 tsp. of paprika
I know I suck with recipes and not providing a step-by-step photo on what it's suppose to look like. But, this one is super easy! You won't need photos for each step.
All you need to see is the finished product. It looks beautiful, right?? *pats myself on the back*
This year we added bacon to the macaroni and cheese. It was a big hit and such a good call, on my mother's part. Thanks mom!
First, before anything, you are going to want to bring a large pot of water to boil. Make sure to salt the water! While the water is coming to a boil, it is the perfect time to start cooking the bacon. You can use regular bacon or turkey bacon - which ever you prefer. But, regular bacon is easier to crumble. Just keep that in mind.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and grease a 9x13" baking dish. Set aside. When the water is boiling, add a pound of macaroni and drizzle a little olive oil in the pot to prevent the macaronis from sticking.
Funny story: when I was making this dish, I didn't realize that my mother bought a 2 lb. box of macaroni and I poured the entire box into the water when it only should have been half. While we are separating the macaroni, she said "why is there so much, half of the macaroni fills the entire dish. Did you pour the whole box?" I told her I did and we both started laughing hysterically. That was a whoopsie on my part.
Keep an eye on the pasta, stirring occasionally, and the bacon, flipping until brown, but in the meantime you can grate the cheese. Put both cheeses in a large bowl and set aside.
At this point, the pasta should be al dente, so you can drain it. Put the cooked bacon between two sheets of paper towels and begin to crush it into bite-size pieces.
The next step is to melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When the butter is fully melted, sprinkle in the flour and whisk to combine. Don't be scared if the mixture looks like wet sand. That's what it is suppose to look like. Cook for approximately one minute, whisking often.
Slowly pour in about two cups or so of milk/half and half, while whisking constantly. There shouldn't be any clumps. I put 1 cup of whole milk and 1 cup of half and half. Mix until smooth. Pour in the remaining of the milk/half and half, whisking until smooth.
Keep mixing over medium heat until thickened. It should be a very thick consistency. Stir in the salt, pepper, and paprika. Then add 1 1/2 cups of the cheeses, stirring to melt and combine. Once melted, stir in another 1 1/2 cups of the cheeses. Whisk until the cheese is melted and the mixture is smooth. Turn off the heat.
In a large bowl, combine the drained elbow pasta with the cheese sauce. Mix until the cheese sauce fully covers each elbow.
Pour half of the paster into the prepared baking dish. Add pieces of bacon. Then top with 1 1/2 cups of grated cheeses.
Add the remaining pasta, the last of the bacon pieces and sprinkle the last 1 1/2 cups of grated cheeses. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and lightly golden brown.
If you want a crunch, pour half a stick of melted butter over panko bread crumbs, mix until combined. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the mac and cheese before putting it in the oven.
This macaroni and cheese is worth the labor and dirty pans because it comes out amazing ad gooey! I hope you try to make it, so you can see what I'm talking about :).