I bridged over to homemade mac-n-cheese a few years ago. What took so long to cross over? Making mac-n-cheese from a kit is easy! The pendulum shifted for me, though, when I had a simple recipe that I’d memorized.
It’s the 2-2-2-2 method. Two tablespoons butter, two tablespoons flour, two cups milk, two cups cheese. Everything else—just wing it. Use whatever noodles you have handy. I usually use either elbow macaroni or penne pasta. When I’m out of those, I’ve been known to use shells (big or small) or twisty spirals. When I’m out of cheddar cheese, I use Monterey Jack, when I’m out of Monterey Jack, I use Swiss. When I want the whole thing to sizzle, I throw in some cayenne pepper. Almost always, I add vegetables to make it healthier and more filling. You get the picture, now here are the basics.
1 lb. elbow macaroni, penne pasta, shells or pasta of your choosing
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
2 cups shredded cheese
salt and pepper to taste
dash garlic powder
chopped broccoli or roasted cauliflower
Cook pasta until al dente. (If adding broccoli, throw the chopped broccoli in the boiling water with the pasta in the last five minutes of cooking). At the same time, melt butter in a saucepan. Add flour and whisk. Add milk and whisk in until smooth. Simmer until the sauce begins to thicken, then add cheese. When cheese is melted, add seasonings. Mix sauce with the drained pasta and vegetables. If I have extra time and want to get fancy, I add some parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs on the top of the finished dish and put it all under the broiler for three minutes.
Note: to prepare with roasted cauliflower, simply chop cauliflower stalks into pieces, toss with olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and roast at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until the cauliflower becomes browned and toasty.