Pasta

November 22, 2021

Homemade Mac and Cheese

Homemade Mac and Cheese

Everyone has that one appetizer or dessert that is their signature party dish. Ours? It's this Mac and Cheese. It's creamy, cheesy and crispy on the top and most importantly, it's a hit!


The first time I made this Mac and Cheese I was in college and needed to bring a dish to a potluck. I quickly called Jamie for his help on a recipe and he gave me this one. I had everyone at that potluck ask me to take some home and for the recipe.


Jamie also makes this Mac and Cheese for every holiday, birthday celebration, family gathering, etc. and time after time, it's still the best part of the meal!

Ingredients for the best homemade mac and cheese

If you can't tell by now, we love this mac and cheese so much and so does everyone that has ever tried it! The ingredients are pretty simple but they yield such a fantastic dish. We specially love how the three cheese blend together and how we get that perfectly crispy top with the ritz crackers. Here's your grocery list:

  • Dried pasta (we recommend Gemeli)
  • Butter
  • Shredded mozzarella
  • Aged gouda
  • Cheddar
  • Yellow onion
  • Parsley
  • Chive
  • Heavy cream
  • All-purpose flour
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Ritz crackers

Tips for making the Mornay Sauce

A truly creamy mac and cheese calls for a perfect mornay sauce, which really is just a fancy word for cheese sauce.

  • Cooking the onion: First you'll want to peel and cut an onion in half and cook it until it's charred to give it a deep sweet and almost smoky onion flavor.
  • Making the roux: Then you'll add your butter and once melted, slowly add in the flour to create a roux, a traditional French liquid thickener consisting of equal parts butter and flour. You'll cook this for an additional 2 minutes and you'll want to stir occasionally.
  • Adding the heavy cream: The heavy cream should be added slowly and you'll want to cook it until it comes to a slow simmer and until the raw flour flavor is cooked out.
  • Adding in the cheese: When ready, add in the salt and pepper along with with the cheese (remember: don't add all of the mozzarella. Leave 1/2 cup to top it off)

How to get the crispy top

Top it off first with that Mozzarella we left on the side and then with the crushed ritz crackers. You'll want to bake the mac and cheese at 375 F for about 30 minutes. Once it's golden brown, it's ready to be enjoyed!


Recipe Variations

Another great thing about this recipe and learning the technique is the fact that you can bring it to any party you go to and add or change a few ingredients.

Here are a few variations to try:


  • Mexican-inspired: Use Pepper Jack cheese and Oaxaca cheese, add chorizo and use crushed tortillas instead of the Ritz crackers
  • Low Country-inspired: Use pimento cheese, add country ham and cornbread crumbles
  • Italian-inspired: Use Mozzarella, Pecorino, and Taliggio cheese, along with prosciutto and fresh basil and top it with Focaccia breadcrumbs.

We guarantee you'll love this creamy and crispy homemade mac and cheese. We're not saying this is the best mac and cheese of all time, but we are saying that there are a lot of people out there that would... just give it a try for yourself and you'll see!

Cheers and eat well!

Homemade Mac and Cheese

We might be biased but this creamy and flavor packed Mac and Cheese is hands down the best one. With that perfect pizza like crust, it can be enjoyed for any occasion!

Author:

Alejandra Diaz del Valle

Prep:

20

min

cook:

60

min

total:

80

min

serves:

8

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces dried pasta (gemeli)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella (½ cup for topping)
  • 2 cups aged gouda
  • 1 cup cheddar
  • ½ yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons parsley (chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons chive (chopped)
  • ½ quart (1 pint) heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons salt (plus 1.5 teaspoons for cooking pasta)
  • 3 cracks (or a large pinch) black pepper
  • 8 ounces ritz crackers (crushed)
  • 1 cup pasta water

Instructions

  1. Cut the onion in half, peel it, and set it aside.
  2. Put your sauce pot on the stove and heat on medium-high heat.
  3. Add about 1 tablespoon of oil to the pot and put the onion into the pot. Cook on medium heat until the onion starts to develop a deep charred appearance.
  4. In the meantime, fill another pot with about 3 quarts of water and bring to a boil.
  5. Once boiling, add 1.5 teaspoons of salt and the pasta.
  6. Stir the pasta to ensure it does not stick and cook for 6-8 minutes or until the pasta is al dente, or has a firm bite but no crunch.
  7. Once finished, strain the pasta making sure to reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and then run cool water over the pasta to stop the cooking. Set aside. (If you will not be using right away, gently coat with olive oil to prevent it from sticking.)
  8. Focusing back on the sauce, flip the onion and repeat on the second side.
  9. Once the onion is charred on both sides, turn off the heat and let the onion sit for about 2 minutes to allow the pot to cool slightly.
  10. Once slightly cooled, add the butter to the pot and move to melt. Once melted, slowly sprinkle in the flour, while whisking, till all the flour is incorporated and a “roux” forms. (Leave the onion in the pot, but move it to the side so it doesn't absorb all the butter.)
  11. Once the roux has formed, continue to cook on low heat for about 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  12. After two minutes, add the heavy cream slowly, whisking constantly, until the mixture is smooth and then whisk in the pasta cooking water.
  13. Continue to cook the cream, stirring occasionally, until the cream comes to a slow simmer. Turn the heat to low and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for another 10-15 minutes, or until the raw flour flavor is cooked out.
  14. Once the raw flour flavor is cooked out, add the salt and pepper and add all of the cheese except for ½ cup of mozzarella cheese. Stir the cream to melt the cheese.
  15. Once the cheese is melted, add the cooked pasta and the chives and parsley.
  16. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  17. Try some of the pasta and season to taste.
  18. Pour the pasta, with the sauce, into a hotel pan or casserole dish and top with the crushed ritz crackers.
  19. Add the leftover shredded mozzarella to the top and bake at 375 F for about 20-30 minutes or until the top is golden brown like a pizza.
  20. Allow the mac and cheese at least 10 minutes to cool after removing from the oven before enjoying.

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