Now there's absolutely nothing wrong with the stuff in the blue box, but homemade macaroni and cheese is completely different and more satisfying in my opinion. The good news is, it's basically the same amount of ingredients (pasta, cheese, butter, milk) this recipe just adds flour! You can prepare it in one pot, so you aren't making more of a mess. The fun thing about making it from scratch is the many variations you have available. You can make it the basic way, which I'll show, but you can also turn it into a casserole with a few mix-ins. Here is the basic recipe, and I'm guessing you already have these ingredients.
- 16 ounces pasta, I used conchiglie shells
- 1 stick butter
- 1/2 cup flour
- 4 cups milk
- 4 cups cheese
- salt and pepper, to taste
Start by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the pasta until it's al dente, then drain in a colander. In the same pot, over medium heat, add the butter and flour. Cook for about 4 minutes, constantly stirring, to remove any flour flavor. Slowly whisk in half of the milk. Then dump in the other half of the milk and continue to whisk until smooth. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook the mixture, whisking occasionally, until it has thickened. Then you can turn off the heat and stir in the cheese. I used a cheddar and monterey jack blend. You can use extra sharp cheddar, white cheddar, or fancier cheeses.
Once the mixture is creamy, fold the pasta into the cheese sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. This is also good with ground mustard or cayenne pepper. Here you can toss in cooked chicken, peas, bacon, anything you desire and maybe have leftover. My favorite way is to eat this as is. Takes about 25 minutes total from boiling the water to finish.
If you want to make it into more of a casserole, preheat the oven to 400F. Add the macaroni and cheese to an oven safe dish and top with additional shredded cheese. Bake until it's brown and bubbly on top. This is absolutely delicious, although it does bake away some of the creaminess. I found I didn't even need all of the cheese sauce because it made so much, so I had about 1/4 cup leftover. So if you're planning on baking it, definitely use all of the cheese mixture to ensure it stays nice and creamy! Enjoy!