Homemade mac and cheese is amazing. It’s just so comforting, so hearty, and it’s the perfect excuse to be totally lazy on the couch right after. Nothing beats that thick and creamy texture from the real deal dairy overload. Nothing. I’ve made it plenty of times subbing dairy free milk, gluten-free pasta, and flour. Is it any good? Heck yeah! It’s still HOMEMADE MAC AND CHEESE people. However, the texture doesn’t quite thicken up the way I prefer. If I’m grating cheese and whisking away till my arm goes numb, then I’m doing it the right way. The right way means whole milk, deli cheeses, and a golden breadcrumb topping. Pure bliss.
Tip: Have everything measured, grated and ready before you start.
- 1 lb small ridged pasta, I use macaroni
- 1 stick (4oz) unsalted butter,plus a little more for greasing
- 4 TBSP all-purpose flour
- 4 c milk (whole)
- 8 oz Vermont sharp white cheddar cheese, grated. I used Cracker Barrel.
- 8 oz Boars Head smoked Gouda cheese, thinly sliced (ask for 1/2 lb at deli counter)
- 4 oz Boars Head mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced (ask for 1/4 lb at deli counter)
- 1 1/2 tsp sea salt, plus more for pasta water
- 1/4 tsp or more cayenne pepper
- 1 c Panko bread crumbs, plain
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- In a large saucepan of salted boiling water, add pasta and cook 2 minutes less than al dente. Drain, rinse, and spray with cooking oil so it doesn’t stick. Set aside.
- Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add flour and keep whisking to combine, about 4-5 minutes. You want a tannish and toasty color.
- Slowly add in the milk and periodically whisk until thickened, about 6-7 minutes.
- Remove pan from the heat and add cheeses (reserving a small amount of each for topping), cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Whisk until smooth.
- Stir in pasta. If needed, add salt.
- Lightly butter a 9 X 13 baking dish and pour mac and cheese mixture in. Top with remaining cheese and spread panko evenly over the top. Bake until bubbly about 8-10 mins. Broil for 3-5 minutes on low for that golden brown beautiful topping.