It’s hard for Mac & cheese to not be pretty good, unless it comes from a box and uses powdered cheese. And even then, it’s passable. God knows, I ate tons of the boxed stuff as a kid.
This recipe, though, is memorably good. Not only because it’s really flavorful, the sauce is super-creamy and it’s easy to make—it’s also crazy-cheap to make. It has one of the best flavor-to-cost ratios of anything I’ve recently made.
One of my colleagues recommended making this, and I’m glad I did. Credit goes to the geniuses at Serious Eats. I’m posting their recipe pretty much verbatim, but feel free to make cheese and pasta substitutions that work best for you.
What you’ll need:
- 6 ounces (170g) elbow macaroni
- 6 ounces (180ml) evaporated milk
- 6 ounces (170g) grated mild or medium cheddar cheese, or any good melting cheese, such as Fontina, Gruyère, or Jack
- 1 or 2 slices of crisp bacon, chopped (highly recommended optional garnish)
- Dash of hot sauce or mustard powder (optional garnish)
What to do:
Put the macaroni in a medium saucepan or frypan and add just enough cold water to cover. Add a pinch of salt and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently.
Continue cooking and stirring until the water has been almost completely absorbed and the macaroni is not quite al dente. This should take between 6 and 10 minutes. Don’t worry if it’s longer though.
Immediately add the evaporated milk to the pasta and bring to a boil. Now add the cheese and stir it in well. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring continuously, until the cheese has melted and the liquid has reduced to a creamy sauce.
Season to taste with more salt and serve immediately.
To re-heat leftovers—if there are any—put the cold mac & cheese in a small sauce pan over medium-low heat and add a splash of milk and a pat of butter. Mix it in until everything heats up and you have a sauce again. It won’t be exactly like when you first made it, but it will still be good.