Macaroni and cheese is a staple, and practically a food group in the college diet. Those that don’t keep at least one box in their pantry for last minute meals and late-night snacks are likely in the minority.
Mac and cheese is great and, though lacking in every nutritional department without dairy and grain, has by our standards become to be a complete and wholesome meal. It is the ultimate comfort food.
But we, as college students, can do better than the artificial yellow stuff that comes in a box. Inevitably, there will be situations that warrant boxed Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, that everyone loves; I beg you to give making the dish from scratch a try. Let us enjoy Mac and Cheese that uses real cheese rather than powder, and seems just slightly more sophisticated than the average meal while still being on a budget.
This recipe is easy, and with the longest step being boiling the water, an overall quick meal to make. With minimal and inexpensive ingredients, homemade mac and cheese shows that spending a few minutes in preparing a meal for yourself, can have great results.
The base is made using just flour and milk, without cream or butter, making the final product healthier than the average mac and cheese.
The types of cheese used can vary depending on preference, just be sure to use enough to fill about three cups. Cheddar, smoked gouda, gruyere, and Monterey jack are all great options that melt well in the milk and give the sauce a creamy consistency.
Though macaroni noodles are the most common, any type of pasta will do the trick. This dish can be made on a stovetop and eaten straight away, but is especially good if spread in a dish, topped with shredded cheese and baked until the cheese forms a golden crust.
Mac and Cheese Ingredients:
12 ounces macaroni noodles
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups shredded cheese of choice (I used cheddar and gouda), plus add more cheese if baking
Black and cayenne pepper, to taste
Cook the pasta according to the package directions, drain and set aside.
In a medium sized pot, whisk together the milk, flour, pepper and a pinch of cayenne to taste.
Heat the milk and flour over medium-high heat, whisking constantly until it reaches a thick and sauce-like consistency. This should take about seven minutes. To test if the sauce is thick enough, dip a spoon into the mixture and run a finger through the sauce on the spoon. If the line holds its shape, the sauce is ready.
Once thick, remove the sauce from the heat and immediately stir in the cheese until the sauce is smooth and creamy.
Add salt to taste before tossing the pasta with the cheese sauce.
If baking for that golden crisp look: spread the mac and cheese into a greased 8-inch square pan and top with shredded cheese. Bake at 350 degrees until the cheese has melted and began to brown and the dish is bubbly.