Classic Mac and Cheese with Minty Peas
I would like to feed you this mac and cheese, by the very large spoonful, until we make eye contact for too long and it gets awkward. That’s a real thing, you know.
This Classic Macaroni and Cheese recipe comes from one my very favorite new books The Mac + Cheese Cookbook! Seriously. We’re talking mac and cheese recipes, cool sides, and a peanut butter pie recipe that is just taunting me.
The book is written by two awesome and inspiring ladies, Allison and Erin who own a mac and cheese restaurant called Homeroom in Oakland, CA. I was lucky enough to visit Homeroom this month and I am all-over smitten.
I made this recipe because I admire and want to support these two ladies, because comfort food is impossible to deny, and because macaroni and cheese is just the thing to break up all of the cookies I’ve baked as of late.
Also… I want to feed you until it gets weird. It’s already weird.
We are making a roux!
This is really exciting! I don’t think we’ve ever done this before!
Making a roux goes something like this:
Melt butter in a pot. Add flour to the butter and stir it around. It feels crazy, but it’s totally the right thing to do… and guess what!? That’s your roux!
We’re transforming our roux into a bechamel. It’s a cream sauce. No big deal.
Slowly drizzle in milk and stir. Drizzle in more milk and stir. The last of the milk and… you guessed it… stir!
The milk will begin to thicken thanks to the heat and flour. Thank you roux!
What’s happening while you’re making the roux and bechamel? You’re multi-tasking your life!
You’re also Instagramming and cooking the pasta! Of course you are. I know you.
Once the bechamel is thickened and seasoned with salt and pepper, I like to take a moment to admire my work. Bechamel feels like an accomplishment.
Hopefully you have someone in the house you can high-five. You deserve it…. and you haven’t even added cheese yet!
To the warm bechamel we add all kinds of cheese. Yea we do!
I used a mondo amount of sharp cheddar and a smaller mondo amount of gruyere cheese.
It’s almost time to freak out for real!
The bechamel transforms into the most luscious, pale orange cheese sauce. You’ll want to dive in with your spoon. So wrong so right.
This pan stops me right in my tracks.
The mac and cheese is stirred until every elbow is coated in cheese sauce. I like to let the mac and cheese warm in the oven until just bubbly, and then I top the dish with waaaay too many toasted Panko breadcrumbs. It’s… I mean… come on!
On the side we’re serving up minty peas cooked with butter, salt, and pepper. Fresh! Veggie sneak.
Classic Mac and Cheese
serves 4 to 6
For the Bechamel:
3 cups whole milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
fresh cracked black pepper
For the Mac:
3/4 pound dried elbow macaroni
1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated gruyere cheese
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs, toasted in the oven until golden
To make the Bechamel, heat the milk until it almost begins to boil. Remove from heat and pour into a large liquid measuring cup. Set aside.
In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Once melted, add the flour and whisk constantly until the mixture turns light brown, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Slowly pour in milk 1 cup at a time, whisking constantly. The mixture will begin to thicken once the first cup is added, but will thin out as all of the milk is added.
Return pot to medium heat and whisk constantly for 2 to 3 minutes as the sauce thickens. Sauce will become silky and thick. To test the thickness, dip a metal spoon into the sauce. If the sauce coats the spoon and doesn’t look translucent or slide off the spoon like milk, it’s done! Stir in salt and pepper.
Remove from heat.
Stir in cheddar and gruyere cheese. Stir until cheese is melted and thoroughly combined. Taste and season accordingly.
Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Drain, rinse the pasta in cold water, and drain again.
Add the cooked pasta to the warm sauce. Serve immediately, or place in an oven proof dish for easy re-heating and serving. Top with toasted breadcrumbs just before serving.
serves 4 to 6
3 cups frozen peas
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons chopped mint
Thaw the peas by placing them in a glass bowl in the microwave for 1 minute, or by leaving them out of the counter for 1 hour before cooking.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the peas and salt. Stir until peas are warm and coated in butter, abotu 3 minutes.
Place in a serving dish and toss in mint. Taste and season accordingly. Serve with Mac and Cheese!