Monday, October 5, 2015

Super Creamy Mac and Cheese

The pared down version of my fabulous and famous special occasion holiday macaroni and cheese. This version is the same, super creamy, gooey and rich mac and cheese, but in a smaller version, perfect for those family and church gatherings.

Super Creamy Mac and Cheese

By popular demand, I'm bringing you this pared down version of my well-loved, Big Batch, Special Occasion, Super-Creamy Macaroni and Cheese. The one I first published on my blog in December of 2008. The one that has been pinned more than 99,000 times since. And the one that I got a happy dance from David Venable when I was on QVC with my first cookbook, not once, but both times!

Over the last seven years, I've had so many letters and comments with compliments about this macaroni and cheese, so much so, that it's become a holiday tradition for a lot of Deep South Dish readers, sometimes replacing long-held family holiday recipes. You couldn't ask for a better compliment than that!

I don't make the big batch version often, because it's such a huge casserole, and also what I would consider a no-calorie-left-behind dish, both reasons that it's mostly reserved for major holidays - like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Still, many of you have grown to love it, and have asked me to pare down the holiday recipe, not only because one 4-quart baking dish full is often plenty enough for many families, but also, you wanted a version of it for those other special family occasions - like birthdays and dinner parties, or potlucks, picnics, church suppers and even funerals, where you still want something special, but don't need quite as much as the big batch recipe makes.

To distinguish it from the original big brother, I've labeled this one "super creamy" because that's just what it is - rich, gooey and super creamy - the way, at least in my opinion, a macaroni and cheese is supposed to be.

Yes, that requires a processed cheese to achieve (even Martha Stewart agrees), so if you've got a beef with American cheese or Velveeta, then this isn't the recipe for you. For all that is holy, please don't try to use all cheddar, because you'll end up with a clumpy, curdled mess that you will be very unhappy about. Don't deviate from the recipe and you'll be thrilled. The process is the same and the same rules apply.
  • Use only the original version of Velveeta brand processed cheese - no generics, no lower fat varieties.
  • Use half and half or whole milk, not low fat or fat free.
  • Use real, pure butter - not margarine, not a butter substitute - and I highly recommend Land O'Lakes brand especially.
  • Use only block cheese that you shred yourself. Pre-shredded bagged cheese has fillers and stablizers in it that will affect the outcome of this recipe.
  • Use sharp cheddar, not mild.
Make the cheese sauce with half and half or whole milk (or even a combination of the two) and Velveeta, temper the eggs with the sauce before adding that back into the sauce, then layer in the components in a 4 quart casserole dish - elbows, seasoning, thin slices of cold butter, shredded cheese and sauce; repeat.

Bake, dig in and savor the gooey, super creaminess!

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Recipe: Super Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 20 min |Cook time: 30 min | Yield: About 12 servings

  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups freshly shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 2 cups half-and-half or whole milk
  • 1 pound block of original Velveeta brand cheese, cut into small cubes
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cajun seasoning, optional

Butter a 4 quart baking dish; set aside. Boil macaroni according to package directions, rinse and set aside to drain. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Stir together the shredded cheeses and set aside.

Pour half and half or milk into a medium saucepan, add Velveeta and cook over medium low heat until all of the cheese has melted. Remove from the heat and set aside. Crack eggs into a separate bowl and lightly whisk. Scoop out some of the cheese sauce and slowly add that to the eggs to temper them, continuously whisking as you add the hot cheese sauce to the eggs. Once eggs are well tempered, add them to the cheese sauce and whisk together until well mixed.

Mix together the salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning, if using. Layer half of the noodles in the baking pan and season with half of the salt and pepper mixture. Slice thin layers of half of the cold butter and spread them around on top of the noodles. Sprinkle 1/2 of the cheddar/jack cheese combo over the noodles. Ladle 1/2 of the Velveeta cheese sauce over that. Repeat the layers of noodles, seasoning, butter and Velveeta sauce, except reserve remaining cheese for later.

Bake at 375 degrees F, uncovered, for 20 minutes, remove from oven, top with remaining cheese and return to the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until bubbly and lightly browned on top.

Make Ahead Tips: I do not recommend assembling macaroni and cheese ahead as the pasta tends to absorb the sauce, giving a dry result after baking. What I do is to prepare the macaroni ahead, rinse and drain well, then store in a sealed container in the refrigerator. I also shred the cheese ahead, loosely bag and refrigerate. The cheese sauce may also be made ahead and rewarmed on low, however I find it just as quick to make that fresh when I assemble and bake the casserole.


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Posted by on October 5, 2015
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