I’ll just say right off the bat it’s not my mom’s recipe. It’s some lady named Maria Costello from Monroe, North Carolina’s mother’s recipe and it’s delicious. It is my new all time favorite go-to macaroni and cheese recipe. I found it a couple of months ago and have made it several times since. It’s sinful but delicious. It is not diet food. It is probably bad for you but I don’t care about any of those things. All I know is that it’s scrumptious and relatively easy and cheesy, which are my main criteria for mac and cheese. I’ve made many recipes over the years and none of them have ever turned-out the way I wanted them to in my head. That’s the thing about homemade macaroni and cheese. When it’s good, it’s so, so good and when it’s bad, well, let’s just say stringy and oily come first to my mind. There have been low periods in my life where I have turned to the boxed stuff because it was better than anything I was turning out of my kitchen. I’m here to tell you that I’m never going to get that low again. This recipe has changed my life and I’m never looking back. I found it in my trusty Taste of Home cookbook and the recipe is available online as well.
- 1-1/2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
- 5 tablespoons butter, divided
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1-1/2 cups milk
- 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
- 2 ounces process cheese (Velveeta), cubed
- 2 tablespoons dry bread crumbs
- Cook macaroni according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Stir in flour, salt and pepper until smooth. Gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Reduce heat. Add the cheeses, stirring until cheese is melted. Drain macaroni.
- Transfer macaroni to a greased 1-1/2-qt. baking dish. Pour cheese sauce over macaroni; mix well. Melt the remaining butter; add the bread crumbs. Sprinkle over top. Bake, uncovered, at 375° for 30 minutes or until heated through and topping is golden brown. Yield: 6 servings.
Like I said, I’ve made this several times now and each time has been slightly different but equally delicious. Some key things to note:
- Any kind of hard cheese you like, or have on hand, can be used in place of the cheddar. I would recommend using the 2 ounces of processed cheese, though, because it really gives it the right amount of creaminess you will otherwise be missing.
- The mac and cheese will probably need a little more salt than the recipe calls for but I make the sauce first and then adjust it accordingly because different cheeses have different salt content.
- Add other spices and let your imagination go wild. I usually add a little dash of garlic powder, dried mustard and parsley but one night I grabbed the oregano by mistake and made something akin to Italian mac and cheese, so I used Italian breadcrumbs instead and it was delicious. Since then I’ve been dreaming up a variety of combinations that might be tasty such as a middle eastern mac and cheese with the addition of a little Burani spice or something tex-mex with some cumin and chile powder. The possibilities are endless.
- Add a dash of worcestershire sauce to the cheese sauce, if you have it. It gives the mac and cheese a nice depth of flavor.
I made this the other night when J and I were alone for the evening (for the first time in a long time). He grilled some fish and sugar snap peas and I made a mac and cheese to die for. I used a Vermont extra sharp white cheddar, added a little worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, parsley and powdered mustard. The sauce had a deep, rich velvety flavor and I used bow tie pasta because it was all I had. I think the different pasta threw off the ratios a little bit but the extra cheesiness of the dish was so decadent that we didn’t care. It’s not something I would eat on a daily basis, or even a monthly basis, but for a date night at home with a bottle of wine? Oh yeah, we ate it and we don’t regret a thing. The other, not-so-sexy, secret about this dish is that it’s pretty economical. I buy 1 pound boxes of elbow macaroni for less than a dollar and a 2 pound box of processed cheese food (just like Velveeta) for a few bucks at Aldi and I almost always have some kind of hard cheese around. If you try it, let me know how you make it and if you improvise. I’m going to be on the lookout for some new ideas!
I hope to be back later this week with my latest, long-coveted, furniture item that I received for free!