Crisp on top, oozing with sauce and with perfectly cooked pasta, my Super Simple Macaroni Cheese is totally delicious, ready in just 20 minute and so simple to make – perfect for those busy days when you just want something easy!
Macaroni cheese is one of my all-time favourites – serious comfort food. We have it pretty much on a weekly basis, and I’ve spent a good many years perfecting it. I always used to get super frustrated because the cheese sauce would soak into the macaroni, meaning it was too dry and the pasta was overcooked. But after the best part of twenty years fiddling with it (it’s one of my oldest recipes) I think I finally have it nailed.
For me the key is getting the cheese sauce just right – not too thick, then making sure you under cook the macaroni so it doesn’t get overcooked when you put it in the oven and finally, putting it all in a really hot oven for just a short amount of time to crisp up the top without overcooking the macaroni or the sauce.
I like to serve this with a simple side salad dressed with my favourite Honey Mustard Dressing. My kids like to eat this with baked beans!
My favourite wine match for macaroni cheese is a crisp unoaked Chardonnay, but if you prefer red, a soft, fruity Merlot from Chile or France would work well here too.
Super Simple Macaroni Cheese
- 300 g macaroni not the quick cook stuff, which really doesn’t work in this recipe
- 30 g butter
- 25 g flour
- 500 ml milk
- 1 tsp mustard or to taste
- 200 g mature cheddar or to taste, grated
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 220C / 200C Fan / Gas Mark 7.
Cook the macaroni until it’s a bit less done than normal – a couple of minutes less than you would usually do. The brand I use takes 10 minutes normally, so I give it 8 minutes for macaroni cheese.
While the macaroni is cooking, make the cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a medium sized pan on a low heat. When the butter is foaming, add the flour and stir until it’s mixed in. Then keep cooking for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. It takes guts to do this. It looks like something is going to go wrong but it doesn’t!
Very gradually add the milk, stirring constantly. Make sure each bit of milk is incorporated before adding the next bit. If you do this slowly on a very low heat, you should end up with a perfectly smooth cheese sauce with no lumps and no need to whisk. However, if it does go wrong for some reason, you can always use a whisk to beat out the lumps.
When all the milk is incorporated, add the mustard, salt and pepper. (N.B. I use slightly salted butter, so I don’t add any extra salt here.) Then add half the cheese, stir to combine and turn off.
When the pasta is done, drain it, retaining a little bit of the cooking water.
Tip the pasta and a couple of tablespoonfuls of the cooking water into the cheese sauce and stir.
Pour the macaroni cheese into a shallow ovenproof dish and sprinkle over the remaining cheese.
Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. The top should be brown but the bottom should still be saucy and the macaroni should be perfectly cooked.
I like to serve this with a simple side salad. My kids like to eat this with baked beans!
Love Macaroni Cheese? Why not try some of my other versions?
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