This mac and cheese recipe is basically the opposite of a healthy, low-calorie dinner. But, this warm, creamy, cheesy, pasta dish is perfect after a long day spent outside in the winter weather. The key to the creamy texture is the combination of cheddar and colby cheeses. Recipes that use only cheddar usually result in a grainy sauce, the addition of colby ensures that the sauce is incredibly smooth. I know purists would disagree with my addition of the onion, but I like having onion in nearly everything. Feel free to leave it out if you disagree! I enjoyed mixing the mac and cheese with some steamed broccoli so I could kid myself into thinking it was a little healthier, I’m sure it would be good with other vegetables too.
If you want to make the recipe ahead of time it can be kept in the fridge for 2 days before cooking.
Classic Mac and Cheese
- 1 pound pasta shapes, I used shells
- 6 tbl. unsalted butter
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp. dry mustard
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 6 tbl. flour
- 2 1/4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 3 1/2 cups milk (low-fat will work fine)
- 1 lb. colby jack cheese, shredded (about 4 cups)
- 8 oz. extra-sharp cheddar, shredded (about 2 cups)
- ground black pepper
- 1-2 cups additional cheddar cheese to top, optional
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for 5 minutes until the pasta is just beginning to soften. Drain the pasta and set aside.
- Return the pot to the stove over medium-high heat and add the butter. Once melted, add the onion and cook for several minutes until softened. Stir in the garlic, mustard powder, and cayenne Cook for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the broth and milk and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 15 minutes until the sauce is slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the cheeses until completely melted. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Stir the pasta into the cheese sauce until all the noodles are covered. Pour into a slightly greased 9 x 13 in baking pan. If desired, sprinkle some additional cheddar cheese over the top. Bake for about 25-35 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and hot. Enjoy!