How many ways can you make macaroni and cheese? Well... When I put my mind to it, if you count everything from the slightest variations, to your major transformations, my guess would be somewhere in the millions. Yup. I said millions. It's only human nature to want to put your own little stamp on something that you're creating via (or as you'll often see used around the food blog world "adapted from") someone else's formula. Especially something that you're serving to your beloved family and friends.
I have a tried and true "go-to" macaroni and cheese recipe that I've used for many years, but I've also tried at least 30 different versions of the dish at one time or another. It's not that we haven't enjoyed most of the versions that I've made, or that my old stand-by recipe isn't a pretty decent one. I blame it on a lifetime of going to pot lucks, friend's dinner parties or family cook-outs and trying someone else's mac & cheese and thinking in that particular moment, that it might just be better than mine. You know how it goes, you eat something that someone else has made, you love it, you ask them for the recipe and then can't wait to go home and make it yourself. The problem, however, is that in most cases (at least in my experience, anyway) it rarely ever comes out tasting quite the same way that you remembered it.
Now, I have a theory about that and I'm not pointing an accusatory finger at anyone in particular, but I often wonder if the person giving you their "secret" recipe, might just be deliberately leaving one important little ingredient out. Maybe even two. And no... I don't do that. EVER. If I have a recipe that someone really wants, I just give it to them in it's entirety. That being said, depending on the person asking, I do sometimes add just a teeny little disclaimer when I write it down for them. I simply state that I won't be held responsible for any kind of substitutions or changes that they choose to make. (you know who you are...) I think that's only fair, don't you?
So, as I mentioned earlier, the Hubbers has always been pretty happy with most of the variations that I've tried, with a few exceptions here and there. But this particular version was like no other mac & cheese that either of us had ever tasted before. And I mean that in a totally "knock your socks off" kinda way. The most incredible thing about it, is that it doesn't have any bacon, or loster, or white truffle oil in it. It was truly a happy accident. And, I simply can't take full credit for "recipe development" on this one, either. I have to share that distiction with, um, my refrigerator. Yeah... I guess I should explain that one, eh?
It happened on one of those nights where 1) you just know that you're not even thinking about entertaining the idea of going out to the store to buy a certain ingredient and 2) your brain kicks into gear and you start thinking, "Hmmm.... I wonder just how many different left over bricks/bags of cheese I have in that meat & cheese drawer today?" You know the kind of concoctions I'm talking about. They're what I fondly refer to as "cleaning out the fridge recipes". And boy, oh boy... did this one ever work! The Hubster gave it 5 stars and a blue ribbon! And let me assure you my friends, that double distinction has happened only a handful of times in the last 32+ years. And that is why I call this recipe "Hubby's 5 Star Blue Ribbon Mac & Cheese".
Now don't be alarmed by the number of photos in this post. If you've been here before, you know you can just use the "Print Friendly" button in the footer of this post and remove any unwanted photos (or my rambling) before you hit that print button. And besides that, I can assure you that this Mac & Cheese recipe is easy peasy. (maybe I should have said easy cheesy. Hmm? What's tha... Uh, yeah.... right. No) Just remember: as always, make sure to get your mise en place done first and then in just a few short steps, you're about 30 minutes away from a big pan of hot, bubbly, creamy, gooey, cheesy, heaven on a plate!
Hubby's 5 Star Blue Ribbon Mac & Cheese
(serves approx 4 to 8, depeding on serving size)
- 16oz Elbow Macaroni, cooked according to pkg directions
- 1 Small Onion, minced
- 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
- 2 Tbls Light Olive Oil
- 2 Tbls AP Flour
- 1Tsp Dry Mustard Powder
- 1&1/2 Cups Heavy Cream
- 2 Cups Whole or 2% Milk
- 1 Lg Egg, lightly beaten
- 1 Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
- 1 Cup Shredded Smoked Gouda
- 1 Cup Shredded Fontina Cheese
- 8oz Fresh Goat Cheese (Chevre)
- 2 Tsp Kosher Salt
- 1 Tsp Fresh Ground Black Pepper
- 1 Tsp Onion Powder
- 1 Tsp Garlic Powder
**Kitchen Tip: If you overcook your pasta, it won't absorb as much of the cream and milk mixture while baking and your finished Mac & Cheese could turn out a bit soupy or runny.
**Kitchen Tip: Sticking a butter knife into the very center of the dish and carefully touching it to your lip or your fingertip, is a good way to see if a casserole is fully heated all the way through.
9. Allow the macaroni and cheese to sit for about 5 minutes before serving. If it's going to be a bit longer than that before you're ready to eat, you can cover the dish loosely with aluminum foil and place it in your turned off oven, with the door open just a bit, to keep it warm.
10. Serve with a big tossed green salad or another vegetable of your choice and some crusty bread and you've got a delicious, comforting weeknight meal.
Or, you can always serve this as a side dish, accompanying a lovely baked ham, a juicy roast turkey or braised pork shoulder, or some crispy fried chicken as part of an awesome Sunday Lunch or Supper!
Don't forget that you can print this (or any) recipe using the "Print Friendly" button at the foot of each post. It's a great little feature that allows you to remove any pictures (or any text that isn't relevant to the recipe) before printing. That can save on ink and paper & in today's economy, who doesn't want to save a little cash when you can?!