Even this far past childhood, mac and cheese remains one of my all-time favourite foods. Probably because despite the wrinkles and sag, the rest of me never progressed very far past childhood. You could call it stunted. I call it joyful. And nothing screams joyful like macaroni and cheese. Of course, with age come macaroni and cheese induced problems — cheese belly and night sweats and unintended inflation of the spare tire. Mac and cheese, like everything excellent, is best consumed in moderation.
I’m all for experimenting with food, but everyone should have a few basic recipes up their sleeve — you need a launching pad. This is, at the moment, my go to recipe. The buttermilk adds an awesome tang, and you can totally swap the cream for milk without much loss in flavour. You can use buttermilk for the whole thing, but I find that the sauce gets a bit watery this way.
- 500 grams (1 pound) dried elbow macaroni or rigatoni
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup heavy cream, or milk
- 1 tablespoon (or more) Dijon mustard
- 4 cups grated aged cheddar
- ½ cup breadcrumbs, fresh made or panko
- Salt and pepper
- Heat oven to 175℃ (350℉)
- Put a large pot of salted water on to boil and cook the pasta, according to package directions, until just tender. Drain and reserve.
- While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk in until well combined. Add the buttermilk a little bit at a time, whisking constantly, so that the flour and milk combine well. Add the cream and dijon mustard and let the sauce come just to a bubble. Whisk in 3 cups of the cheese and allow the sauce to simmer over low heat for around 10 minutes.
- Taste the sauce, season with salt and pepper if necessary. Mix the sauce with the cooked noodles and pour into a baking dish. Top with bread crumbs and leftover cheese. Bake until golden brown and bubbling, 20-25 minutes.
- Allow mac and cheese to rest for about 5 minutes before serving — if this is possible!