Macaroni & cheese is a classic recipe, a staple. Pretty much everyone and their mama has one. I’m particularly fond of Alton Brown’s. As much as I like all the others, the best mac & cheese is and always will be my mom’s. It’s a roux with a kick, at least two cheeses and big, sauce-gulping pasta. This is the quick way to make something almost as good as Mama Sunshine’s. Something tells me there are secret ingredients to make it extra mama-good. If you’ve been reading since back in the days of Sunshine Press, you’ll recall this recipe as simple and delicious. This is a repost with all new pictures! I made it without the ham slice this time. Definitely doesn’t need it. Sup, vegetarians?! You can’t go wrong. To the kitchen!
Hearty Party Mac & Cheese
Prep: 10 minutes ♦ Cook: 20 minutes ♦ Difficulty: Requires agility ♦ 8 Servings
Gather: 1/2 package rotini or another pasta with ridges or a holes to soak up sauce. Shredded cheeses (I used medium cheddar and jalapeno havarti, but feel free to experiment). Shallot, onion and garlic, minced. 1 spicy pepper (jalapeno or serrano), also minced. I actually used half fresh jalapeno and half pickled. Less than 1/4 cup flour. 2 tablespoons butter. 2 cups cold, cold milk. 1/4 cup bread crumbs. You’ll also need 1/2 cup sour cream. Literally one splash of hot sauce or Sriracha. Salt, pepper and red pepper flake, of course.
Prepare: Mince up the shallot, onion, garlic and serrano. Measure out your milk, but leave it in the fridge. It’s important that the milk is cold. Shred up your cheeses. Set up a big pot to boil the pasta and pre-heat the oven to 350. It’s a good idea to have all this done before you start cooking, it just makes everything faster and easier. Grab another pan for the cheese sauce preferably with 1-3 inch sides so you have plenty of room. Get that shallot/garlic/onion mix in the pan with the butter and cook until caramelized. Gradually adding in jalapeno pepper.
Add flour and cook until it doesn’t smell floury anymore. Then whisk the mixture as you pour in milk. Beat it fairly quickly to begin and then slower as it thickens. Turn off the stove and stir to melt the cheese. Add hot sauce/sriracha. Turn off heat. Then add sour cream.
Listen, if you’re so hungry you can’t see straight and you get to this point feel free to stop! Bowl up and eat. But if you love that crispy baked top keep at it, boo.
I’m not normally a huge fan of the baked top macaronis, but that’s because most times the whole thing dries out too much. The good news is that doesn’t happen with this version since it’s so very saucy. You’ll still have a nice, rich creamy cheese sauce lurking beneath that crispy crust.
Sprinkle bread crumbs on top and bake for ten minutes. If you’re in a hurry you can broil for a minute or two. You gotta watch it, though! I used the slow and steady method this time around. That last ten minutes is handy for getting dishes done. Or plating it up and taking a million photos, whatever you’re into.
With 8 big portions you can feed all the fam and then some. Posse up! Oh, there’s nothing better than the hush of a good meal. Share it with someone you love and lemme know what you think!