Homemade macaroni and cheese. Need I say more?
What is it about macaroni and cheese that makes it so appealing? I LOVED macaroni and cheese growing up, and truthfully, I still love it now. Even the boxed stuff in all its fake cheese, zero nutrition glory. Maybe it’s the nostalgia that it creates. Or maybe it’s just simply the perfect combination of ingredients. Whatever it is, it has always been a favorite of mine.
My husband’s birthday is in early December, and one of the gifts he received was a Martha Stewart cast iron skillet. He loves to cook and is obsessed with all things kitchen related. Due to his work schedule though, most of the cooking falls on me. But, his obsession with kitchen gadgets insures that I have a well stocked kitchen!
When he took the new skillet out of the box, he discovered that it came with a recipe for skillet mac and cheese. That alone was worth the purchase. He immediately said, “We need to try this!”
Obviously, I agreed.
Unfortunately for him, I made it earlier this week while he was out of town. Oops! Sorry honey. 🙂
He had to be gone for work for a few days, so it was just me and my toddler at home. I really don’t like making anything too involved when it’s just the two of us. Honestly, I don’t have quite the love of cooking that my husband does. Plus, my daughter is pretty picky and often won’t eat what we cook anyway. I figured the macaroni and cheese would be a hit though, and I was pretty sure we would have enough for a couple of days. Two dinners for the price of one? Sold!
I couldn’t believe how easy this was to make, and it is SO. GOOD. (Fair warning – I cut the recipe in half, and it was still a ton of food. Half of the recipe could have easily fed all three of us for two days.)
Here it is:
- 6 oz orange cheddar cheese, grated
- 5 oz Gruyere cheese, grated
- 5 oz extra sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
- 6 tbsp butter
- 1/2 c all-purpose flour
- 3 1/2 c whole milk, warmed
- 1 lb shells, cooked al dente
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 c dry breadcrumbs
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- In a medium bowl, combine cheeses and gently toss to evenly combine.
- In an enameled cast iron skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, for 2-3 minutes. Gradually add warmed milk, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Add all but a 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture and whisk until sauce is melted and smooth. Add pasta, salt, pepper, and thyme and gently stir to combine. Sprinkle top with breadcrumbs and remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
- I couldn't find Gruyere at my grocery store, so I substituted with Gouda.
- I used dried thyme instead of fresh.
- I crushed up some croutons I had on hand to create the breadcrumbs.