Baked Mac N Cheese is a classic comfort food that never fails to satisfy our taste buds. The combination of creamy cheese sauce and tender macaroni, topped with a crispy golden crust, makes for a truly irresistible dish. In this tutorial, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of making your own delicious Baked Mac N Cheese right at home.
Gathering Your Ingredients
Before we dive into the cooking process, let’s gather all the ingredients you’ll need:
- 2 cups elbow macaroni
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (optional)
- Bread crumbs for topping (optional)
Cooking the Pasta
The first step in making Baked Mac N Cheese is to cook the pasta. Follow these steps:
- In a large pot, bring water to a boil.
- Add a pinch of salt to the boiling water.
- Add the elbow macaroni and cook according to the package instructions until al dente.
- Rinse the cooked pasta with cold water to stop them from cooking further and set aside.
Making the Cheese Sauce
The key to a creamy and flavorful Baked Mac N Cheese lies in the cheese sauce. Here’s how you can make it:
Step 1: Preparing the Roux
- Add the flour and whisk continuously until a smooth paste, known as a roux, forms.
- Cook the roux for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Step 2: Adding the Milk
- Continue cooking and stirring until the sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon.
- This process should take approximately 5-7 minutes.
- If desired, season with salt and black pepper to taste.
Step 3: Incorporating the Cheese
In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
Slowly pour in the milk while whisking continuously to prevent any lumps from forming.
Remove the saucepan from heat and add shredded cheddar cheese. Stir until all the cheese is melted and well combined.
Combining Pasta and Cheese Sauce
Now that both our pasta and cheese sauce are ready, let’s bring them together:
- Mix the cooked macaroni with the cheese sauce until all noodles are evenly coated.
The Baking Process
To achieve that perfect golden crust on top of your Baked Mac N Cheese, follow these final steps:
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
- Transfer the macaroni and cheese mixture into a greased baking dish.
- If desired, sprinkle bread crumbs over the top for an extra crunch.
- Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 25-30 minutes, or until the top is golden and bubbling.
Once baked, remove from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before serving. This allows the flavors to settle and makes it easier to handle. Baked Mac N Cheese can be enjoyed as a main course or as a side dish alongside your favorite proteins.
Now that you know how to make your own Baked Mac N Cheese from scratch, you can impress your family and friends with this classic comfort food. Enjoy!