Macaroni and cheese is probably my ultimate comfort food. We don’t eat it very often because it’s really not terribly good for you, but every once in a while, you just have to have some macaroni and cheese. Homemade macaroni and cheese is pretty easy and straightforward, but it can take a while and, depending what kind you’re making, can also dirty quite a few pots. The reason this particular macaroni and cheese is “revolutionary” is because the pasta cooks in the milk, so there’s no need to make a roux/cheese sauce, and everything is done in one pot, which always wins me over. I added a little more milk (umm…and cheese) to the recipe, but otherwise just followed directions and was left with a quick and creamy macaroni and cheese that is a little healthier for you than the standard versions.
While this is not my favorite macaroni and cheese recipe (that would be reserved for baked mac and cheese with a buttery, crispy topping), it definitely has its place as a good, quick, and easy macaroni and cheese. You can use pretty much any cheese, really, and it barely takes any more time or effort than making macaroni and cheese from a box—but it definitely tastes better and you can feel better about its nonprocessed-ness. :) The pasta takes slightly longer to cook, just because it’s cooking at a slow simmer rather than a rapid boil, but you can shred the cheese while it’s cooking, and it’s all done really quickly, making it easy for weeknight dinners. I would definitely recommend buying a block of cheese and shredding it yourself, because the pre-shredded kind generally includes cornstarch and other things to keep it from clumping, and those things can make the texture of macaroni and cheese very gritty. I used a combination of extra sharp cheddar (for flavor) and leftover fontina (melts beautifully). The whole family liked this, and I’ll gladly add a super quick macaroni and cheese recipe to my cookbook!
One Pot, Stove-Top Macaroni and Cheese
Adapted from White on Rice Couple
2 cups small dried pasta, like small shells or elbow noodles (about 8 oz.)
2.25 – 2.5 cups milk (I used 1%)
1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. salt
1.25 cups loosely packed shredded cheese (I used a combo of extra sharp cheddar and fontina)
Place the dried pasta in a colander and rinse under cold water quickly; let drain. In a medium saucepan, add 2.25 cups milk, butter, dry mustard, salt, and rinsed pasta.
On medium heat, slowly bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring often. Once the mixture comes to a simmer, reduce the heat to low. Continue cooking the pasta, stirring frequently, so that the pasta doesn’t stick and cooks evenly. Cook for about 15-20 minutes, until nearly all nearly all the milk has been absorbed and pasta is cooked. If additional milk is needed, add a couple tablespoons at a time.
Stir in the cheese evenly, cover, and remove from heat. Allow to stand for about 5 minutes. Stir once more and season to taste if necessary before serving.