Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
A homemade baked macaroni and cheese with a flavorful and creamy sauce
16 ounces elbow macaroni or small shell pasta
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds, crushed*
20 cranks of black pepper (or 1/8-1/4 teaspoon ground)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt
12 ounces (3 cups) shredded cheddar cheese
8 ounces (2 cups) shredded mozzarella cheese
Additional cheddar, parmesan, or bread crumbs** for topping
1. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and rinse with cool water. Place pasta in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
2. In a large sauce pan, combine cayenne, garlic, crushed mustard, black pepper, and butter over medium heat. When butter starts to sizzle, add the flour and stir until mixed and bubbly.
3. Add 2 cups of the milk and whisk with the butter mixture over medium heat until thick and bubbly. Whisk constantly to avoid lumps or scorching.
4. Turn off heat and whisk in remaining 1 cup of milk and the cup of cream, along with the parsley and salt.
5. Crack eggs into a separate mixing bowl and whisk briskly, until they are no longer very "stringy". Whisking constantly, pour a half cup of the hot creamy sauce in with the eggs. Continue whisking and adding sauce to the eggs, until you've added about 2 cups of the sauce in with the eggs. Then pour the eggs into the saucepan with the rest of the sauce, whisking to incorporate.
6. Pour the sauce over the pasta in the large mixing bowl. Stir to combine. Stir in shredded cheeses. Spread into a lightly greased baking dish.
This recipe makes a very full 9x13-inch dish, so you can also divide it between a couple dishes for a thinner layer (I like to do a 9x13 dish and an 8x8 dish).
7. Sprinkle top with parmesan cheese, shredded cheddar cheese, or bread crumbs. Bake uncovered at 325 degrees for about 45 minutes, until hot and bubbly.
This casserole can be made ahead and stored in the fridge for a couple days before baking. If it's been in the fridge a couple days, however, you may need to drizzle about 1/2 cup of additional milk over top before baking, as the pasta tends to absorb more liquid as it sits.
*I crushed these in my mortar and pestle. You could also substitute ground mustard powder, or leave the mustard out if you don't have any, and just add an extra sprinkle of cayenne!
**If using homemade bread crumbs: Crumble dry or stale bread in a food processor. Saute crumbs in a hot skillet with a little oil and season with garlic, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle over top.
This recipe (minus measurements!) was passed to me from my friend Jamie. She gave us a dish of her macaroni and cheese and it was so creamy and delicious, I had to ask her how she made it! :) Jamie said she has also frozen this (unbaked) with great success.
I've made my mom's homemade macaroni and cheese, which is easier, but not nearly so creamy or flavorful. This recipe is worth the effort!! The flavor is amazing and wow... this is definitely the best macaroni and cheese I've ever made or eaten! We all love it!!
This recipe was included in my freezer meal plan of main dishes when preparing for the birth of my fourth child. Read my update on how this recipe and the others turned out after freezing!