Mac and cheese is, in my mind, the ultimate comfort food. I am absolutely positive that millions of kids around the world would agree.
This version? Kicked up a notch for grown ups. My momma’s recipe on steroids. Jalapeno and bacon, rich creamy sauce, sharp cheddar cheese, nostalgia inducing elbow macaroni. This is NOT a low calorie food, but when a dish is this amazingly tasty, it’s so worth the extra time at the gym!
Don’t let the extra step of making the cheese sauce dissuade you. This recipe comes together very quickly, makes fantastic leftovers (if there are any!), and can even be made ahead and popped in the oven when ready.
*Note: Convert this recipe to gluten free by using brown rice noodles and gluten free flour. Results are very similar. Reduce cooking time for brown rice noodle preparation to just 2-3 minutes in boiling water.
Ultimate Mac & Cheese
4 cups elbow macaroni
*Basic Cheddar Cheese Sauce
1 1/2 cups half and half
2 egg yolks
4 cups coarsely grated medium or sharp cheddar cheese
1 Tbsp Montreal Steak Seasoning
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh or pickled jalapenos (nacho style)
1 cup cooked, crumbled bacon
Basic Cheddar Cheese Sauce
2 Tblsp butter
2 Tblsp all-purpose flour
1 cup milk (at minimum, use 2%, for best results use whole)
Salt & Pepper to taste, or 1/2 Tblsp Montreal Steak Seasoning
1 1/2 cups freshly shredded medium or sharp cheddar cheese
Cheese Sauce Directions:
Melt butter in medium skillet over medium heat. Whisk in flour and continue to whisk for one minute. Slowly whisk in milk until smooth and slightly thickened. Season as desired with salt and pepper or Montreal Steak Seasoning.
Switch to a wooden spoon, reduce heat to low and slowly begin to sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese over sauce. Mix and stir in between additions until cheese is fully melted and incorporated. Remove from heat. Taste sauce and add additional cheese or seasonings if desired.
Mac & Cheese Directions:
Preheat oven to 375F.
Bring water to a boil in large pot over high heat. Once water is boiling, add noodles and cook for five minutes. Drain well and pour into greased 9×13 baking dish. Noodles will finish cooking during baking time.
Make Basic Cheese sauce recipe. Stir into noodles in baking dish, mixing well.
In a separate bowl, whisk together egg yolks, half and half and seasoning. Stir in shredded cheddar cheese. Pour over noodles. Stir well to incorporate both sauce mixtures together.
Add crumbled bacon and diced jalapenos, if desired. Bake on middle rack in oven for 40-45 minutes, stirring halfway through and adding additional shredded cheese, if desired.