Michele Ford  


Michele's Wickedly Sharp Cheddar Mac N Cheese
a "Where there is Fire" cooking tutorial

Who doesn't love mac n cheese? What we have here is some of the finest macaroni & cheese there is! Made from fresh wholesome ingredients, this classic baked treat is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Follow this recipe and you'll be glad you did. This mac n cheese is creamy and delicious! You pick the cheeses you use, so it tastes the way you like it.

In this example, 3 types of cheese were used: a baby Swiss, a sharp cheddar and a seriously sharp cheddar. Just the sticks of cheese that they have in the dairy aisle will be fine, you don't have to get the extra expensive cheese in the special cheese display over by the olive bar. 

What you will need is simple:

3 sticks of cheese (8-10 oz each)
1 quart of milk
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup of flour
1/2 cup of bread crumbs
1 lb box of macaroni
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp paprika
For preparation and cooking you'll also need: a cheese grater, a large bowl (for the grated cheese), a large stockpot with water (to boil the macaroni), a large saucepan (for the milk and cheese), a strainer for the macaroni and a whisk. You'll also need something to bake the macaroni and cheese in -- in this recipe we used two 7-15/16 in. dia x 3-5/32 in. casserole pans.


Step 1. Grate the cheese.

Grate the 3 sticks of cheese with the course side of the grater.  It's ok to do it right over the bowl. Grate some of one kind, then some of the other kind, rotating among the different types. So yeah, grate these up the good old fashioned way, using some elbow grease and steam. Keep your cheese mixed as you are grating it so you don't have to stir it in the bowl later because it always gets all over the counter that way.

Step 2. Boil the water.

Load up your large stock pot with fresh cold water. Add salt as you desire. Put the heat on almost high and let it begin to boil. The cold water might condense on the outside of the pot and drip and make the flame crackle, but that's fine and shouldn't cause any problems.

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Step 3. Melt the butter. 

Over low heat, melt the butter slowly and pay attention to it. Don't let it get too bubbly or browned.  Once the butter is melted, slowly stir in (with the whisk) the 1/2 cup of flour. Don't dump it all in at once, rather just a little bit at a time while stirring and making sure the flour doesn't get stuck on the sides of the pan or the bottom.

Keep smiling.

Throw in some or all of the salt, as you like it.  Make sure the heat is low and it's not cooking too fast.   The mix will thicken and become a little pasty. Keep stirring, but don't stir too much :)

Step 4. Add milk. 

Slowly stir in a little bit of the milk to the butter/flour paste. Turn the flame up a little bit at this point.  As the paste thins out keep stirring and adding the rest of the milk, allowing it to slowly warm up a bit before adding more.  Make sure you are stirring around the edges and bottom of the saucepan. Stir the milk occasionally while it all warms up. You'll notice a little bit of yellow from the butter rising to the top and that's when it's time to start adding cheese. 

Step 5. Cheese - A little at a time.

Keep your eye on the flame. Not too hot, not too cold. Add the cheese mixture into the milk a little at a time. Start off with just a few pieces of the cheese and stir it, slowly. Lift up the whisk, is the cheese still there? Your milk is not warm enough, don't turn up the flame but just keep stirring. Once you notice your cheese is gone, add a little bit more. Keep stirring. Slowly.

Step 6. By now your water is boiling.

Stop adding cheese for a second and put the pasta in the water and give it a good stir so it doesn't stick on the bottom. Cook the pasta at a rapid boil for 6-7 minutes depending on how you like it.

Step 7. Preheat the oven to 350°. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Keep stirring and adding more cheese.  Remember each time you add the cold cheese in, the milk has to come back up to warm temperature to melt more cheese, so be patient and let it take the time it needs. Keep adding more cheese in little bits until there's just about 2 handfuls left in the bowl. Set the rest aside for the topping later.

Step 8. Taste.  Mmmmmm!

Look at how delicious the milk and cheese mix is! *chef's treat*-- take a fresh teaspoon from the drawer and have yourself a little taste of it. Mmmmmmm! Put the spoon in the dirty dishes and don't do it again :)

Step 9.  Stir your pasta.

Make sure it's not sticking.  It should be almost done by now.  Enjoy what you are cooking and forget about the rest of the world for a while. Smile all the time.


Step 10. Topping & Pans. 

Get your pans sprayed with nonstick spray and line your baking tray with foil for the drips. Take the rest of the grated cheese and add most of the bread crumbs to it in the bowl. Mix around with your hands. Let it set. Stir the cheese mixture on the stove again. Remove the pasta & turn off the flame, drain the pasta and pour it into your baking dish. In my example, divide it evenly between your casserole pans. 

Step 11. Build it.

Remove the cheese mixture from the burner and turn off the flame. Pour it over the macaroni, stirring from time to time to even it out. Take the grated cheese and breadcrumb mixture and distribute it evenly across the top of your macaroni and cheese. Sprinkle with paprika and remaining breadcrumbs and bake in the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes.  Let cool about 10 minutes before serving.


Experiment and adjust the ingredients as you see fit.  That's what I have done over the years of learning how to make it.  You can use more or less of any of the ingredients. If you like it more creamy, add more milk. If you like it less cheesy, add less cheese, if you like more topping, add more breadcrumbs, however I've found this mix is just perfect.   

Serve it with a vegetable!

I hope you enjoy this recipe and don't forget you have to eat your vegetables with it. MY MOTHER SAID SO! I have an out-of-this-world recipe for roasted garlic broccoli parmesan that goes with this mac and cheese wonderfully. Please let me know if you are interested in it, and I'll post that too!

Michele's Wickedly Sharp Cheddar Mac N Cheese
Enjoy -- a home-made favorite!

Thanks Mom!

This is a great recipe to share with your family, your in-laws, your boyfriend or girlfriend.  It's especially great for kids!  My Mom never served meat on Fridays when I was growing up, so I simply adore this classic comfort food, which we often had as a family together on Friday nights...



some photos of making mac and cheese...
 by Michele Ford

I hope you enjoy looking at these pictures of this delicious treat.  If you cook it and love it, then please send me a message and let me know!  Thanks for looking at this recipe!

User comments:

05-05-2008 Hello, I used your recipe and it was creamy and delicious.  Will use from now on.  Thanks.






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