Cooking at home is not always as predictably routine as it seems. So what’s a home cook to do when the household turns upside down into an “infirmary”? That’s right, the cook, moi, vertically challenged from a broken ankle and catering to two kids, downright miserable recovering from dreaded wisdom teeth surgery. The challenge, to make a seriously soft dinner on crutches that’s good enough to please this high-maintenance foodie family. All kidding aside (sort of), this version of three cheese mac and cheese, made with the offerings from the fridge turned out to be a huge it.
Basics of cheese sauce: Making cheese sauce from scratch is easy if you know the secrets. Starting with equal parts butter and flour that cook together in a saucepan for just a few minutes. Then adding liquid, in this case, milk. The cooked butter/flour mixture (the fancy French word is “roux”) will thicken the milk to make a white sauce. Add cheese at the end and voila, cheese sauce! It’s delish on veggies too.
Cheese combos: The cheese combos in mac and cheese are only limited to your imagination. Use what you like, what’s in your fridge or try something new. Generally, hard cheeses work best because of their melting qualities. So, go for cheese that yields the gooey factor and you’ll strike the right note with your mac and cheese.
Mac and cheese add-ins: Who knew fresh basil would be so delicious in mac and cheese? It doesn’t count as a veggie (to my kids disappointment) but the sky’s the limit when adding veggies such as shredded zucchini, chopped broccoli or teeny grape tomatoes. Add cooked ground beef, turkey, pork or chicken and it’s a meal.
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 4 cups whole milk
- 8 oz. (1/2 lb., 2 cups) shredded Cheddar
- 8 oz. (1/2 lb., 2 cups) shredded Monterey Jack
- 4 oz. (1/4 lb., 1 cup) shredded Parmesan, divided
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1-teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook macaroni according to package directions until almost al dente (macaroni will continue to cook in the oven so do not over-boil or the dish will be mushy).
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour and cook 2-3 minutes stirring constantly until flour is absorbed and no longer seems “raw”. Whisk in milk slowly until thickened, 4-5 minutes.