True confession: Macaroni and cheese at my house tends to be boiled pasta with a jar of Ragu Double Cheddar “cheese” Sauce.
“How dare she?” you ask. “Food blogger, cheese lover and now…hypocrite!” Well I’ll tell you, that’s what my kids have clamored for…until now. On occasion, I had served delicious, gourmet macaroni and cheese, using the best aged Gruyere, to a lukewarm reception. I’ve made a roux and gradually whisked in a careful combination of freshly grated cheeses…the response, “eh.” And I’ve made those luscious mac and cheese casseroles topped with buttered breadcrumbs…underwhelmed, to say the least. But now I’ve done it. I’ve achieved Macaroni and Cheese nirvana or as my son explains, “This is just like the Mac ‘n Cheese you get at a BBQ place.” Bingo!
I wanted to serve Macaroni and Cheese as a side dish to pulled pork for my kids’ triple sleepover date. Triple sleepover date, that’s another post. So I pulled out my handy, dandy Joy of Cooking and took a look. Evaporated milk? Searched the pantry to no avail. No evaporated milk. Moved on to Cook’s Illustrated Best Recipes. Evaporated milk, yet again? Onwards and upwards. Took a look at The Cook’s Bible. Lo and behold, evaporated milk. They must be on to something. A quick call to my neighbors and I got my hands on some evaporated milk–I had to give this recipe a try.
Cheesy, rich, creamy…none of these descriptors do this Macaroni and Cheese justice so let me just say, “Make this recipe, now.” Your family will thank you.
- 1/2 lb pasta (you can use elbows, shells or I used cavatappi)
- 4 Tbls (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- one 12-oz can evaporated milk
- 12 oz extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 tsp dry mustard, dissolved in 1 tsp water
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or to taste, optional (I omitted)
- Cook pasta in salted water, according to package directions, until al dente. Drain and set aside.
- Add butter, evaporated milk, cheese, eggs, dissolved mustard, salt and pepper (if using) to the pot and stir over low heat.
- Keep stirring until the mixture first bubbles as a simmer, 5 to 10 minutes. The sauce should thicken noticeably; increase heat slightly after 5 minutes if sauce is still soupy but watch carefully. Do not overheat or the sauce will break apart and become lumpy.
- Add pasta to cheese sauce in the pot and continue to stir until heated through.
- Serve immediately.
- When making, I doubled this recipe because I prefer to use the whole box of pasta. There were leftovers--no complaints there. Feel free to make as is, or double.