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How to Make Macaroni and Cheese from Scratch, for the Clueless Cook



A step-by-step tutorial to make macaroni and cheese from scratch.

Many years ago when we had moved to a new church, one of the deacons' wives brought a large pan of macaroni and cheese to the parsonage for our lunch while we unpacked boxes. It was such a sweet thing for her to do, and that mac and cheese was so good.

The next Sunday at church I thanked Mary, and asked for her recipe. She told me to "just mix your cheese sauce with the macaroni and bake it at...". I leaned close and quietly confessed that what I needed was more along the lines of "do I cook the macaroni first?" and "how do I make a cheese sauce?" The look on her face was priceless as she considered this pastor's wife who did not know how to cook!

She taught me how to make macaroni and cheese from scratch, then she taught me how to make noodles and several other dishes. She didn't give me her recipe for chicken'n'noodles though. The women in that church all guarded their chicken'n'noodles recipes very closely!

In the years since then I've continued to learn cooking skills and now I can cook with the best of 'em.

I lost Mary's recipe some years ago. One day my friend SueEllen and I were discussing ways to use the large amounts of goats' milk that we both had that spring, and she gave me her recipe for macaroni and cheese. I believe it was originally from Martha Stewart. I've sized it down, because it made a huge amount that would have been worthy of church suppers but is too much for just hubby and me, and I made a few small changes to fit our tastes.

Just in case any of you are cooking-impaired like I was at one time in my life, here is how you make macaroni and cheese for the clueless cook. (Yes, you boil the macaroni first.)


INGREDIENTS
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
4 Tbsp butter, divided
2 3/4 cups milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 1/4 cups grated cheddar cheese, shredded, divided (*see note)
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, shredded, divided
1/2 pound elbow macaroni (2 cups before cooking)

A step-by-step tutorial to make macaroni and cheese from scratch.

Preheat your oven to 375°. I find it easiest to measure everything and shred the cheese before I begin. It can get hectic trying to measure spices to add to the sauce at the right time.

A step-by-step tutorial to make macaroni and cheese from scratch.

The original recipe says to reserve 3/4 cup of the cheddar cheese and 1/8 cup of the Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top of the dish before baking.


A step-by-step tutorial to make macaroni and cheese from scratch.

*NOTE: Because we live in the boonies and the only Parmesan cheese I can find comes in a green-topped jar, I omit the Parmesan and use the entire amount of the cheddar cheese in the sauce, then shred extra for the top. And I'm going to confess that I often forget to add breadcrumbs on top, but it's just as good without them.

A step-by-step tutorial to make macaroni and cheese from scratch.

Melt 1 Tbsp of butter in a small saucepan, then add the breadcrumbs. Stir the breadcrumbs into the butter and let them toast for a minute while stirring. Remove from heat and set aside until later.

A step-by-step tutorial to make macaroni and cheese from scratch.

Melt the remaining 3 Tbsp of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. When it is melted, add the flour and mix very well so there are no lumps. Continue to stir and cook this roux for a minute.

A step-by-step tutorial to make macaroni and cheese from scratch.


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A step-by-step tutorial to make macaroni and cheese from scratch.

Add the milk a little at a time and whisk vigorously until it is as smooth as velvet. No lumps! (This is much easier if you don't add the milk all at once. Pour in half a cup or so and whisk, then another half cup and whisk, etc. Work out any lumps before adding more milk.) Cook and stir until the sauce bubbles and becomes thick.

A step-by-step tutorial to make macaroni and cheese from scratch.

Remove from heat and stir in the salt, pepper, nutmeg and cayenne pepper...

A step-by-step tutorial to make macaroni and cheese from scratch.

...then add the cheese and stir until it is melted. Set the pan with the cheese sauce aside while you cook the macaroni.

A step-by-step tutorial to make macaroni and cheese from scratch.

Follow directions on the package to boil the macaroni in a large saucepan. When finished (don't overcook it as it will continue to cook when it's in the oven), pour into a colander, rinse with cold water, then drain. Bounce it around to remove all the water.

A step-by-step tutorial to make macaroni and cheese from scratch.

Pour the cooked macaroni back into the large saucepan and add the cheese sauce, mix well, then pour it into a buttered 8x12" casserole dish.

A step-by-step tutorial to make macaroni and cheese from scratch.

Top with the buttered breadcrumbs and reserved cheese. (I had to omit the cheese on top this time, I only had enough for the sauce. It was still good though!)

A step-by-step tutorial to make macaroni and cheese from scratch.

I like to make this in the morning, then refrigerate it until it's time to make dinner. It refrigerates well, and you could make it a day ahead of time if you wish. When you're ready to cook, just pop it in the oven and bake at 375° for approximately 30 minutes, until browned and bubbly on top.

A step-by-step tutorial to make macaroni and cheese from scratch.


Enjoy!


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How to make macaroni and cheese for the clueless cook.


This post was shared at some of my favorite blog hops.

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12 comments

  1. Thanks, Kathi! This is something I have never made. And with all of the cheddar I made this summer, it would be a great treat to learn how. Thanks again. You may have just given me the motivation I need to try it!
    Fern

    ReplyDelete
  2. You're welcome, Fern. I have never made cheddar and hope to do that when I have goat milk again, so I'd love to read a tutorial on how to do that!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I usually use all cheddar in my recipe too.
    Glad you learned how to make a cheese sauce, it comes in handy!
    Continued blessings...
    Thanks for joining the Maple Hill Hop today!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Very nice tutorial. It is always good to see how others do the same thing you might already do. Thanks for sharing this yummy Mac and cheese.

    ReplyDelete
  5. That is making me drool! :-) That looks so warm and gooey and cheesy... Thanks for the great pics and recipe!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Comfort food at its finest. :-) Thank you for stopping by!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Kathi, your mac and cheese sounds wonderful. I love that it uses a roux, and the seasonings sound like they would be exactly what my family would enjoy. I loved your story about not knowing how to cook! :)

    Visiting from Creative Home and Garden Hop!

    Love, Joy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Joy. I hope your family enjoys it.

      Delete
  8. Love Macaroni and Cheese - great recipe! I do appreciate you sharing with Home and Garden Thursday,
    Kathy

    ReplyDelete
  9. Looks delicous, Kathi! I enjoyed your story...pretty funny. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL! It's kind of ironic that I was baking bread and making yogurt at that time and yet wasn't much of a from-scratch cook.

      Delete

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