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Mac and cheese (or macaroni and cheese) is an all-time favorite dish in the US composed mostly of cooked macaroni pasta and cheese sauce, typically with cheddar cheese. The dish also incorporates other ingredients like meat, breadcrumbs, depending on where you are in the world and how you want to cook it.
In this article, we will go back to the pure comfort and goodness of traditional mac and cheese. We will teach you how to cook this quick homemade baked mac and cheese recipe the family could enjoy either as a main or side dish.
Origins of favorite Mac and Cheese
Traditionally, mac and cheese is a casserole baked in the oven, but you can also cook it in a saucepan like other pasta dishes. It’s easier to cook the crowd favorite comfort food mac and cheese, since it is also available on packaged mixes.
Many countries have their connection to a version of mac and cheese, like the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, and of course, Italy, where pasta was first popularized in Europe.
The US embraced mac and cheese as its own, as the company Kraft invented the boxed macaroni in 1937 at the pinnacle of the Great Depression. However, neither cheese nor macaroni were invented in the US.
There has been some debate on where mac and cheese actually originated, but it’s not surprising why this dish is loved by many. It’s because the ingredients and way of cooking are so simple yet it gives a savory flavor that you want to taste over and over again.
Health Benefits of Mac and Cheese
Mac and cheese is America’s comfort food and comfort foods are not exactly the most healthy in terms of nutrition. Mac and cheese is typically high in calories because it’s made with pasta, cheese, cream and butter. However, the calorie content of these significantly vary depending on the brands, ingredients, and serving size of your homemade baked mac and cheese.
How to Cook Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese
Cooking Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese at home doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are easy ways to create the crowd favorite without having to go through much trouble.
- 1 lb. elbow macaroni
- 1 pinch salt
- 3 tbsp. butter (½ stick)
- 5 cups heavy cream
- 5 tsp. Cajun seasoning
- 5 tsp. ground mustard
- 25 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1 lb sharp Cheddar cheese (shredded)
- 1 lb. whole milk mozzarella cheese (shredded)
- 1 lb. Gouda (shredded)
- 5 eggs (large)
Step 1: Preheat your oven and your ingredients
To start cooking your Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese, you would need to preheat your oven at 375°F and pour water in a large pot, add a pinch of salt to avoid the macaroni from sticking together. It’s important to preheat your oven as you let the water boil to make sure it’s ready when you lay the mac and cheese in the oven. Use a reliable instant read food thermometer for accurate temperatures. Proceed to buttering your casserole that would go.
Step 2: Cook the mac
While it’s nice to create your own macaroni, it may take more time than just buying premade macaroni pasta. Just cook the macaroni according to its package directions in boiling water. Let it boil for 10-12 minutes, until it’s al dente. Drain it well and rinse under cold water until cooler.
Step 3: Create your cheese sauce
As the macaroni cooks, you would need to create your cheese sauce. In a separate saucepan, melt the butter in low-medium heat. Combine the eggs, heavy cream, Cajun seasoning, ground mustard, nutmeg in a big pinch of salt in a medium bowl and whisk them until they combine. Once you see the ingredients have merged together, slowly pour your mixture in the saucepan. Stir the sauce continuously and combine half of cheddar cheese and shredded Gouda and let them melt into the mixture. When done, pour over the cooked sauce on the pot and stir the pot until the sauce soaks the macaroni.
Step 4: Bake it in the oven
Transfer your mac and cheese on an oven-safe platter. Add an additional layer of cheese on top and bake until the center of the cheese is set and the top is golden brown color. Bake it for around 60 to 70 minutes. You can cover the top with aluminum foil for a more even cook. Let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Cooking the all-time favorite Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese doesn’t need to be a challenge. With this easy and quick recipe, you can cook a tasty mac and cheese that your family members will surely love.
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