Macaroni and Cheese is one of my guilty pleasures. It's one of my emotional eating dishes. That first spoonful of hot, creamy, cheesey, noodley goodness is euphoric.
What makes me feel more guilty is shelling out five bucks for a box of the Creamy Deluxe Annie's Mac which is less guilt-inducing than buying that blue box.
(In doing research for this post I learned that the fact that I was calling it "Kraft Dinner" is purely a Canadian thing. Huh. The things you learn.)
Making your own macaroni and cheese is as simple as boiling some noodles and making a basic thickener (roux) progressing to a white sauce (béchamel) progressing to a cheese sauce (mornay). Wow, French Sauces 101 in a single sentence. With enough practice you can knock out a generous single serving or two healthy servings of classic mac and cheese in about the same time it takes to prepare a box of Kraft Dinner.
We cheat a little since this is a one-pan recipe. Traditionally, the pasta is drained. Traditionally, the sauce is made in a completely separate pan. This isn't traditional.
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup dry macaroni
- 1/4 small bell pepper, diced (or whatever you want to add in, peas are another favourite so are diced hot dogs.)
- 1 small sprig thyme (optional)
- a few turns of fresh cracked black pepper, or to taste
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 Tbsp flour
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup shredded cheese (of your choice)
- 2 tsp honey
- In a 2-qt sauce pan bring water and salt to a boil.
- Add macaroni, cook until almost al dente. (1 minute less than the recommended cooking time.)
- Resist the urge to drain! This is a one-pan mac, remember?
- Reduce heat to medium, add bell peppers, thyme, and black pepper. Cook for a few minutes until most of the water has boiled off.
- Add butter and flour, cook for 2 minutes, stirring continuously.
- Add milk and keep on a low simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the bottom from burning.
- Stir in cheese until melted.
- Remove from heat and stir in honey.