- 8 ounces elbow macaroni
- 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Optional: 1/2 cup breadcrumbs for topping
- In a large pot, bring water to a boil and cook the elbow macaroni according to package instructions until al dente. Drain the cooked macaroni and set aside.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a baking dish and set it aside.
- In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once melted, add the flour and whisk continuously for about 2 minutes to create a roux – a cooked mixture of fat and flour.
- Reduce the heat to low and slowly pour in the milk while constantly whisking the mixture. Continue whisking until the sauce thickens, which should take about 5 minutes.
- Add the mustard powder, paprika, and garlic powder to the sauce. Season with salt and pepper according to your taste preference, keeping in mind that the cheese will also add a bit of saltiness to the dish. Stir well to combine.
- Gradually add the shredded cheddar and mozzarella cheeses to the sauce, reserving a small amount of each for the topping. Stir the mixture until the cheeses melt and the sauce becomes rich and creamy.
- Add the cooked macaroni to the sauce, gently folding it in until each noodle is evenly coated. This is where the magic happens – the combination of the cheddar and mozzarella creates a beautiful balance of flavors and textures.
- Transfer the Mac and Cheese mixture to the greased baking dish. If desired, sprinkle the reserved shredded cheese and breadcrumbs evenly over the top for a delightful cheesy crust.
- Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 20-25 minutes or until the top is golden and bubbly.
- Once done, allow the dish to cool for a few minutes, as it will be piping hot, and then serve it up in all its cheesy glory!
Tips and Variations:
- For an added pop of flavor, try experimenting with different types of cheese, such as gouda, gruyere, or fontina.
- For a touch of sophistication, consider adding caramelized onions or sautéed mushrooms to the sauce.
- Need to feed a crowd? Double the recipe and bake it in a larger baking dish. It’s always better to have leftovers than to run out before everyone gets a taste!
- To make your Mac and Cheese extra indulgent, mix in some crispy bacon, diced ham, or even lobster meat.
- For a healthier twist, substitute whole milk with low-fat milk or use a combination of vegetable broth and milk for a lighter sauce.
Mac and Cheese is not just a dish; it’s a culinary journey that takes us back to simpler times. With the perfect blend of sharp cheddar and gooey mozzarella, this creamy creation will satisfy your cravings and leave you with a heart full of joy. So, go ahead and embark on this cheesy adventure, and don’t be afraid to add your own personal touch to make it truly unforgettable. Enjoy every cheesy bite and may it bring comfort and happiness to your table!