The Cheesiest Mac and Cheese
It’s comfort food season! The time for steaming bowls of pasta, soups and curries is here, and it happens to be my favourite food season. But wow, it’s been a while, hasn’t it?
Between a continuing global pandemic, the death of a close family member and the fact that I am in the final stages of sending my first book off to the printers (yes that’s right! Where We Ate: A Field Guide to Canada’s Restaurants, Past and Present is almost ready for pre-order), 2022 has been a whopper.Jump to Recipe
And while there are those that continue to roll their eyes at food bloggers who write 1500-word essays on the minutia of their daily lives (which I fully support and adore, by the way, just please give me the ‘jump to recipe’ button), I’ll spare you a diatribe about my goings on and get to the reason why you’re really here — a recipe for the cheesiest mac and cheese!
Where is the cheesiest mac and cheese?
A few weeks back, I was the guest on CBC Crosstalk, the daily lunch-hour radio show, hosted by Adam Walsh (you can listen here). We talked about Where We Ate, how I got into food writing, and my recent restaurant reviews for The Telegram and then Adam opened the lines so we could answer some culinary questions from listeners.
Then the question came — I couldn’t have planned it better! The question was so appropriate, my family members asked me later if I had planted it.
Where is the best mac and cheese in the city?
I’ve talked about this before, but No.4 Restaurant & Bar and Get Stuffed Restaurant serve up the winners in my book.
As I drove home after the radio show, a flutter with thoughts of mac and cheese, I realised that I don’t have a recipe for my favourite dish on the blog — the thing I love most in the world (we all know about my love for cheese noods). I don’t have a ton of recipes on the blog; for me, this has been a place to talk about the restaurants I visit, the hotels I enjoy and the history of my favourite dishes (like eggs benny) but there are a few. But to not have a mac and cheese recipe feels a bit blasphemous!
For the home cook, the cheesiest mac and cheese recipe is hard to attain. Sometimes the noodles are overcooked, absorbing too much of the bechamel sauce; sometimes the bechamel is too runny so it doesn’t form that pleasantly gelatinous bowl of comfort, and sometimes there just isn’t enough cheese.
All about the cheese
My recipe is not fancy, it doesn’t have extra things in this dish — there is no spin. It’s macaroni and cheese.
The trick to my recipe is to mix in a cup or so of grated cheese in the casserole dish, just before you top the dish with even more cheese. I also never put anything on top of my mac and cheese other than more cheese. Always more cheese. Never breadcrumbs, or gasp, tomatoes. This recipe is all about cheese (like many things in my life).
So, after a decade of The Food Girl in Town (yup, that’s right, I’ve been on here for ten years and didn’t even post about my anniversary — what kind of blogger am I?), here is the recipe for the cheesiest mac and cheese.
The Cheesiest Mac and Cheese
There's nothing more comforting that a bowl of ooey, gooey mac and cheese. My recipe ensures maximum cheese pull and maximum delicious.
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup flour
- 4 cups milk
- 1/2 tsp ground mustard
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- 4 cups dried pasta macaroni is great, but elicoidali or scooby-doo noodles work well too
- 2 cups grated cheese mix of Parmesan and extra old cheddar
- 4 cups grate cheese mix of parmesan mozzarella and extra old cheese
Pre-heat your oven to 350F.
Fill a large pot with water, salt water well (the water should taste like the ocean) and heat to boiling. Cook your macaroni (or noodle of your liking) until al dente. Drain and set aside.
Grate all of your cheeses and divide into two separate bowls: In one bowl there should be 2 cups of parmesan and extra old cheddar cheese, in the other 4 cups of grated cheese containing parmesan, mozzarella and extra old cheddar. Set aside.
Make your béchamel: In a large pot, melt 1/2 cup butter over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup flour and whisk until mixture thickens and bubbles.
Whisk in milk, one cup at a time, letting the sauce thicken with each cup. Then let it cook a minute more and add ground mustard, cayenne and nutmeg.
Removed from heat. Add the 2 cups of grated parmesan and extra old cheddar cheese and whisk. Season with salt and pepper.
Add cooked macaroni to the béchamel pot. Mix fully and then add a few handfuls of grated cheese
Transfer macaroni and cheese into a casserole dish, cover with the rest of the grated cheese.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until top is brown and bubbly.