Everyone loves classic mac n’ cheese. And if you don’t love it, you may not have experienced the real deal. When I say macaroni and cheese, I’m not talking about the boxed noodles with powdered cheese that’s ubiquitous on the supermarket shelves in America, I mean the homemade, real cheese version. I fell in love with the creamy goodness when I lived in the US on a high school exchange and haven’t turned back. It’s like a bowl of cheesy comfort, with that stick-to-your-ribs effect that makes it perfect on these extra cold London nights when I’m totally finished with winter, and ready for the spring to come and rescue me.
But the original and classic recipes for macaroni and cheese calls for lots of cheese and full fat cream, considered pretty heavy for any health conscious individual trying to keep it relatively light. That’s where I came up with a lighter recipe, using a less-fatty cheese sauce and whole wheat macaroni noodles. In the past, I’ve also made it with mushrooms and spinach for some added veggies, but sometimes pure is best. Or pure with healthy moderations :)
- 300 grams whole wheat macaroni pasta
- 3 ½ cups milk
- ⅓ cup butter
- ⅓ cup flour
- 350 – 400 grams (3-4 cups) cheese, grated, aged gouda or sharp cheddar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons fresh cracked black pepper
- Preheat oven to 180ºC. Boil a large pot of water and add a pinch of salt. Add the pasta until it's just cooked, about 8 minutes. Strain and rinse with cold water and set aside while you prepare the cheese sauce.
- Melt butter in a large saucepan on the stove top, set to medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour in very small portions to ensure it doesn't clump. Heat up the milk for 30 seconds in the microwave to bring it closer to room temperature. Then gradually stir in the first cup of milk in small doses, mixing thoroughly after each addition, otherwise the sauce will not mix evenly and the flour will clump.
- From there add the remaining milk, salt and pepper and bring to milk to almost boiling. Be sure not to entirely boil the milk and keep stirring it constantly, scraping the bottom on the pot as to make sure the milk doesn't burn and give the pasta a nasty flavour. Do this for a few minutes, until the milk mixture starts to thicken. Once the milk is heated and the consistency is thicker, add the cheese and stir until all is melted. In a large casserole dish, mix the pasta and cheese sauce together.
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until bubbling.
by Clare Carmichael My Passion for Food