I’d like to introduce you to the Pioneer Woman’s Macaroni and Cheese. Ree has a lovely step-by-step post on her blog about creating this mountain of cheesy deliciousness, so I’d encourage you to check it out… and as always, she’ll never fail to make you laugh so hard milk comes out your nose. Or cheese, depending on what you’re eating at the moment.
The amount of mustard powder Ree calls for in her recipe is quite a bit much for me, so I usually only add a dash, if any at all. And definitely experiment with different kinds of cheese. I’m not a huge fan of 100% cheddar mac & cheese, so I tend to shake things up a bit with some milder cheeses. Just as good (and just as fattening), but not as “in your face/mouth” as cheddar. But a lot of people do like cheddar, so go with whatever floats your boat – in this case I used a mixture of provolone and colby-jack, with a bit of fresh parmesan thrown in.
One more thing – It’s in the recipe, but I can’t stress it enough: DO NOT UNDERSALT! Mac & cheese really can’t survive without the salt. It will fall flat and be pretty much tasteless. You wonder why the blue box is so popular? Salt, baby. Lots and lots of packaged salt, all dressed up in a pretty blue box with extra calcium (probably another word for salt).
Also, I’m going to put in a plug here for Ree’s new recipe site, Tasty Kitchen. If you haven’t done so already, go ahead and take a look. There are some really great recipes on there, and it’s very simple to navigate.
Okay, here’s your recipe:
Pioneer Woman’s Macaroni & Cheese
- 4 cups dried macaroni
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 4 tablespoons) butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk
- 2 heaping teaspoons dry mustard (more if desired)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 pound cheese, grated
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (more to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt (more to taste)
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- *Optional spices: cayenne pepper, paprika, thyme
Cook macaroni until very firm. Macaroni should be too firm to eat right out of the pot. Drain.
In a small bowl, beat egg.
In a large pot, melt butter and sprinkle in flour. Whisk together over medium-low heat. Cook mixture for five minutes, whisking constantly. Don’t let it burn.
Pour in milk, add mustard, and whisk until smooth. Cook for five minutes until very thick (this always takes much longer than five minutes for me. Just keep cooking, you’ll see when it starts to thicken up). Reduce heat to low.
Take 1/4 cup of the sauce and slowly pour it into beaten egg, whisking constantly to avoid cooking eggs. Whisk together till smooth.
Pour egg mixture into sauce, whisking constantly. Stir until smooth.
Add in cheese and stir to melt.
Add salt(s) and pepper. Taste sauce and add more salt and seasoned salt as needed/desired! DO NOT UNDERSALT.
Pour in drained, cooked macaroni and stir to combine.
Serve immediately (very creamy) OR pour into a buttered baking dish, top with extra cheese or bread crumbs, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly and golden on top.
Yum. Yum Yum. Yum Yum Yum.