My wife’s favorite go to dinner is a simple, homemade Macaroni and Cheese. No blue box for us. When we make it homemade, it gives a better sense of what exactly is going into our bodies when we eat. This particular recipe, the sauce has only 6 recipes, while the typical “instant” variety Macaroni and Cheese has over double that with all sorts of phosphates that I can’t pronounce.
If you take a look on Pinterest, you’ll come across all sorts of Macaroni and Cheese recipes. There’s macaroni & cheese that uses gruyere to avocado mac & cheese, and even one that has corned beef and Guinness Beer. Our specialty, however, is garlic butter. So I made a simple, go-to recipe with our Parmesan Basil Garlic Butter.
Cooking Macaroni and Cheese
When it comes to cooking pasta, I must have amount of Italian in me, because I’m VERY picky. I would almost rather have crunchy pasta than mushy pasta… almost. For this recipe, not only do we cook the pasta, but then we bake it too! “Al dente” is the term used to describe a pasta that has been cooked tender, yet still has a slight chewy texture. Overcooked, mushy pasta is a culinary sin in my home, so here’s a few tips to cook pasta “al dente” when using packaged noodles:
Tips for Cooking Pasta
- Make sure you use a big enough pot- pasta takes on water and expands when cooked, so over-estimate the size of your pot
- Bring water to a boil before you add the noodles
- Salt the water generously once it is boiling
- Use the directions on the package as a guide for how long to cook it
- Test your noodles- if they’re crunchy, they’re not quite done, if they’re just passed crunchy, pour off the water
- Remember that the noodles will continue to cook a bit even after you drain them.
- Do not try and cool the noodles down with water- this is an Italian “no-no”
One more tip, and I’ve heard mixed instruction on this, but it is more of a utility for me than anything. If you don’t plan to serve the noodles immediately, then, after you’ve drained it, drizzle it with olive oil and toss them around. This will keep them from sticking together in one big clump as they cool. Also, a little olive oil won’t change the flavor much at all.
Don’t Throw it Against a Wall
Sometimes people have told me that throwing the noodles against a wall and seeing if they stick is a good indication if they’re done. It is not. I’m not entirely sure where this started and can find no truth to this. For me, if your noodles are sticking to the wall, you’ve overcooked them because the gluten has broken down too much within the pasta.
- 5 oz Chef Shamy Parmesan Basil Garlic Butter
- 1 lb elbow macaroni (cooked)
- ½ Cup Flour
- 5 Cups Milk
- 5 Cups cheddar cheese (coarsely shredded)
- ½ teaspoon mustard powder
- 8 oz Panko Breadcrumbs
- ½ stick salted butter
- 3 Tablespoons chives (optional)
- Salt and Pepper (to taste)
- Preheat oven to 400°
- In a bowl, combine breadcrumbs and salted butter with a fork, set aside
- In a large pan or pot melt Chef Shamy Garlic Butter on medium-high heat, then add flour and whisk together
- Add milk and whisk until lumps are gone and roux begins to thicken
- Add cheese and whisk until well blended, then add mustard powder and salt & pepper
- Carefully stir in cooked pasta
- Pour into a 9x13 baking dish
- Add breadcrumb mixture to cover the top of the macaroni
- Bake for 20 minutes then optionally sprinkle with chopped chives