This week is all about cheese. For me, mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food. It’s so versatile. Add bacon, or other meat, different seasonings, vegetables, various toppings. But then there is this simple, Panera-like, creamy and super easy stove top version that resembles Velveeta creamy mac and cheese and is homemade. Let me be clear, I am not too good for a boxed mac and cheese, I definitely enjoy it from time to time, but this homemade version is just as easy, and you can control the flavor. If you want it a little more mild, add more American cheese. If you want something a bit sharper, add a different or more cheddar. It’s the best form of basic. This all comes together quickly. Basically, in the time it takes you to boil the pasta, you’ve got the cheese sauce. It’s the perfect cold weather food especially when you are looking for something quick during the busy weeknights. Also, leftovers. And let me just say – they are amazing. If you want to thin out the cheese a bit you can add in some milk when you are reheating. I usually just microwave mine for a few seconds with a dash or two of milk added. Add a little more salt and you have yourself a delicious lunch or dinner.
Creamy stovetop mac and cheese
- 1 box pasta shapes like shells
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup flour
- 2 ½ cups whole milk
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 oz white America cheese slices
- 8 oz white cheddar cheese shredded
Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions for al dente. Drain well.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. When the butter starts to foam, add in the flour and cook until lightly golden brown. Be sure to whisk constantly.
Slowly pour in the milk, whisking the entire time. You want to be sure to add the milk slow enough so that the flour mixture smooths out and doesn’t clump. If it does clump, don’t worry. Just continue to whisk as you are heating the mixture and letting it thicken. They will smooth out eventually. Allow to thicken about 6-8 minutes.
Remove from the heat and add in the American cheese slices. Whisk together to incorporate. Add in the cheddar cheese. Whisk again until the cheese mixture is smooth. Pour in the pasta. Season with salt and pepper.
This recipe was adapted from a copycat Panera mac and cheese