Sunday, January 16, 2011

Classic Macaroni and Cheese

As I mentioned before, we had a couple friends staying with us over the holidays and one of them was a vegetarian. Naturally, my family of meat eaters (or rather chicken and fish eaters) began to rack our brains trying to come up with meatless dinners. It was a week of interesting eating, that's for sure. But, through it all, there was one recipe that stood out among the rest - this Classic Macaroni and Cheese. After all, let's face it, creamy, cheesy pasta is something that will please vegetarians and meat eaters alike, no question about it.

Everyone just loved it. Up until now, macaroni and cheese was always something that came out of a box, so mac and cheese made from scratch with real honest-to-goodness cheese was definitely a step up. Constant comments were heard about how good it was and everyone dove for the leftovers the next day. With rave reviews like that, I know I'll be keeping this one in my recipe box.

Classic Macaroni and Cheese (adapted from Sweet Pea's Kitchen)

Panko topping:
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Panko (in my haste, I didn't measure how much I put in)

Pasta and cheese:
1 lb. elbow macaroni
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
6 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
5 c. milk
2 c. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
2 c. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tsp. table salt
ground black pepper (I added this, but you can leave it out if you want)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until pasta is tender. Drain and set aside.

Heat 6 Tbsp. butter over medium-high heat until foaming. Add flour and whisk well to combine. Continue whisking until mixture becomes fragrant and deepens in color, about 1 min. Gradually whisk in the milk; bring mixture to a boil, whisking constantly (mixture must reach full boil to thicken). Reduce heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened to consistency of heavy cream, about 5 min. Take off of heat and whisk in cheeses and 1 tsp. salt until melted. Add pasta and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is steaming and heated through, about 6 min.

Melt the 3 Tbsp. butter in a pot. Take off of the heat and add the panko, stirring until the panko is coated with the butter. As for the amount of panko, use enough so that the mixture is not too dry and not too greasy.

Transfer mixture to a large casserole dish or 9x13 baking dish and sprinkle evenly with the panko mixture. Broil until crumbs are deep golden brown, 3-5 min., rotating pan if necessary for even browning. Cool about 5 min., then serve.

Note: We've made this more than once. The other time we made this, we used Pepper Jack cheese instead of the Monterey Jack and added in a diced jalapeno pepper (ribs, seeds, and all). It was incredible and deliciously spicy. I think we'll make it this way from now on.

This recipe is linked to:
My Sweet and Savory's Meatless Monday
Just Another Meatless Monday
Midnight Maniac's Meatless Monday


  1. You are right! Who wouldn't love mac and cheese! Adding the ground black pepper is a really yummy idea! It sounds delicious. Can I have some, please!

  2. Macaroni and cheese in various forms shows up in our home at least once a week. My guy loves Chipotle Spiced Macaroni and Cheese and just last night I made a Ricotta Pasta with Sausage that will be on my blog tomorrow morning. Once you make it homemade it's hard to eat the boxed stuff ever again!

  3. Classic Mac & Cheese is the perfect warm you up winter meal.

  4. Macaroni and cheese is my son's favorite and this one looks so yum, can't wait to try them!

  5. My daughter, the pasta queen, would LOVE this...just good ol' mac and cheese without any funky cheeses she would turn her nose up at. Sounds wonderful, Lisa!

  6. This sounds amazing. My kids love pepper-jack mac and I know they would love this.

  7. That was a very wise choice on your behalf. This is the absolutely comforting meal. It looks mouthwatering. Thanks for visiting my blog!

  8. That photo is making me crave mac n'cheese. And your trifle is another one that I will put on my "to make" list. It's no wonder it gets scarfed up at those church functions.

  9. mac and cheese is one of my favourites!

  10. mmmm...sounds perfect! The "real" stuff is so much better than the wanna-be boxed stuff, isn't it! YUM!

  11. I LOVE mac and cheese! The panko crust on top sounds to die for!!!

  12. I love a good ooey-gooey mac and cheese! One of the greatest comfort meals - this looks amazing!

  13. Looks good! Until a few years ago I thought I didn't like mac & cheese, then I made a homemade version and WOW!

  14. I'll have you know that macaroni and cheese is one of mine and my family's all time favorite meals, so heart warming. Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

  15. You are right! This is a great vegetarian dish. It is so delicious that I didn't realize that there is no meat in there.

  16. Lisa, This sounds like a GOOD recipe, but I always make my mom's mac n' cheese to remind me of her:) It was my favorite dish of hers and she used to make it for me every birthday! Have a great week!

  17. Oh I just LOVE panko on top of mac and cheese totally gives it the best crunch. This looks divine :)

    Thanks for linking up to Just Another Meatless Monday

  18. Your macaroni and cheese sounds delicious - I like that you have used Monterey Jack cheese as well as cheddar.

  19. Que delícia Lisa! Como uma quase vegetariana (eu como peixe as vezes ainda) eu tenho que fazer essa receita!
    Estou com água na boca!

  20. Mac & cheese and all its variations are a-ok in my book. Love the ground peppery kick you gave it!

  21. Who doesn't love Mac 'n Cheese?! This is one dish that is sure to delight eaters on both sides of the fence. YUM.

    Thanks for sharing this with Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays.

    ♥ Rebecca Jean
    Midnight Maniac

  22. this looks so yummy I am suffering from a cold and could so go for some of this delicious comfort food

  23. Sounds delicious! I love the taste and texture of Monterey Jack. Thanks for sharing!

  24. What a perfect looks wonderful!

  25. That sounds DELISH! I think I may have to try it!

  26. Mac and cheese has been so hit or miss for me. I always have good intentions, but occasionally my sauce gets really grainy and gross. I have been improving lately, so maybe I'll give this recipe a go and see how I do!

  27. A wonderful classic that always goes over well. Looks great.

  28. Hi Lisa! I made this tonight for dinner and my whole family loved it. I have made many mac and cheese recipes and even have one on my blog that I love, but this was the first one that even my husband and son loved. It was so creamy and cheesy. Great recipe! Thanks for sharing it:)

  29. Lisa, there are few things more comforting than a dish of homemade macaroni and cheese :) You did a great job, and I'm glad your family and your vegetarian friends enjoyed this meal. I love switching up the cheeses sometimes too, like with Gruyere to make it fancy :)

  30. Yum! This looks so good! Thanks for the compliment on my blog about the cookies! How exactly does the linky party work? I link ur page and u link mine?

  31. YUM! My favorite! I could try mac & cheese recipes for months and never get sick of it. Thx!

  32. You can never go wrong with homemade mac and cheese - it's the ultimate comfort food!

  33. mac & cheese are all time comfort food. I usually make it with any leftover cheese I have in the fridge. you almost never can go wrong with mac & cheese. everyone loves it.
    yours look delicious.
    Thanks for sharing, I'll be checking again this weekend to see the sweet treats at your linky party

  34. I love homemade mac n cheese! Thanks for the new recipe!

  35. This looks soo good! I love Mac & Cheese!! Thanks for the recipe!

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