There’s something about mac and cheese that’s impossible not to like. For starters, it’s soothing, something most Americans appreciate in their food. The creamy sauce of mac & cheese can heal anyone’s soul. It’s also simple to put together – it may take one or two pots, but the principle is simple, and feeding a crowd is a breeze. The best thing about mac and cheese is how adaptable it is. There’s a method to prepare it so that everyone at the table licks their lips, whether you’re feeding a hungry party of meat eaters or vegans or presenting it as a main or side dish.
A smooth and creamy cheese sauce is essential in mac and cheese, and I’ve learned through trial and error that there are a few basic things you can do to get that smooth sauce we all desire in our macaroni!
The type of cheese you use makes a difference. Well-aged cheddar cheese will have a richer flavor and a smoother texture. Milder, more affordable cheddar cheeses have far less flavor and a grittier mouthfeel. Use freshly grated cheese kept at room temperature for easy blending and moderate heat and careful stirring to avoid over stirring the sauce.
Preheat the oven to 325°F and lightly butter a square baking dish. Slightly undercook the noodles (under a minute). Pour the water and set it aside. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Combine the flour, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl. Slowly pour in the milk and half-and-half, stirring constantly. Turn off the heat. One cup of shredded cheese should be stirred into the sauce until melted. Toss the cooked macaroni noodles in the sauce to coat them. Pour half of the spaghetti mixture into the baking dish that has been prepared. Half a cup of cheese should be sprinkled on top. Pour the remaining spaghetti on top and top with the remaining cheese. Then go ahead and bake to get that lovely gooeyness.