Mac and cheese is not a type of pasta but a type of pasta dish. The name of this dish could puzzle you at first and a glance at the dish will make you think it’s all pasta but it isn’t. Mac and cheese is comfort food and a go-to for many people who would rather salvage leftovers.
If you have cheese, meatloaf leftovers, or pulled pork from the other day, you can combine them and make a delicious bowl of mac and cheese. This does not only prevent wastage, but it also saves the overall time you’d spend making mac and cheese from scratch.
But that’s not the point of this article. Let’s see what mac and cheese is and how you can make a delicious bowl for yourself and your family.
What is mac and cheese?
Mac and cheese is a baked dish made from macaroni – a type of pasta – and cheese sauce. The dish contains a combination of different types of cheese that are layered and melted into a sauce. It also contains other ingredients like butter, breadcrumbs, milk, cream, and flour.
But you don’t always have to bake mac and cheese, you can choose to make it on a stovetop. In addition, a good thing about mac and cheese is that you can make it ahead of time. Make the cheese sauce two days ahead and refrigerate it without the pasta.
When you’re ready to have mac and cheese, reheat the cheese sauce, add the macaroni, and any topping of your choice.
Is mac and cheese a type of pasta?
No, it is not. Mac and cheese is a pasta dish and not a type of pasta. Macaroni is the pasta in the creamy, cheesy pasta dish.
Is mac and cheese soup?
You can make a soupy mac and cheese for a late-night cold weather meal. The difference between mac and cheese soup and regular mac and cheese is that the former is soupy because of the chicken broth it contains. Moreover, as a soup, it may be spicier based on personal preferences.
Is mac and cheese healthy?
Mac and cheese is a delicious meal that you should eat in moderation to stay healthy. It contains ingredients like cheese, pasta, cream, milk, and butter which all contain a high amount of calories.
Moreover, the more or the type of toppings you add to it can either increase or decrease the number of calories. Also, how much mac and cheese you eat can determine its nutritional value. The USDA says that 1 cup of cooked mac and cheese contains:
- 310 calories
- 44g carbohydrates
- 9g fat
- 13g protein
- 3g sugar
- 2.3g dietary fiber
- 869.4mg sodium
- 15.1mg cholesterol
- 151.2mg potassium
- Other minerals and vitamins
You can make your mac and cheese healthier by making modifications like:
- Increase the protein and fiber content by using pasta made from legumes
- Add lean proteins like chicken breasts and tuna
- Also, replace high-calorie creams and milk with unsweetened milk
- Incorporate leafy vegetables, herbs, and spices into your mac and cheese
- Additionally, you can reduce the cheese quantity (if you are ready to compromise the cheesy taste)
How to make mac and cheese
This recipe makes baked mac and cheese for 10. If you want to cook yours on a stovetop, you can skip preheating the oven and baking mac and cheese after stirring in the cooked pasta.
- 1 pound of your choice of macaroni
- 5 to 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 4 to 5 cups of shredded cheese (make a combination of your favorite cheeses)
- 4 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
- 2 ½ to 3 cups of chilled milk
- 1 ½ cups of half and half
- 3 slices of bread for the breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- ¾ teaspoon of black pepper
- Any other spices and herbs you want
- Any other topping you want to add
- Start with cooking the pasta. Cook it until it is al dente
- Drain off the water and set it aside
- If you don’t have breadcrumbs, make breadcrumbs by grinding the slices of bread in a food processor or mixer. Afterward, mix the crumbs with melted butter
- Then, you can preheat the oven to 390°F
- While the oven is preheating, make the cheese sauce
- Heat 3 tablespoons of the unsalted butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan on a stovetop
- Then, whisk in 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour. Whisk continuously to prevent lumps from forming and ensure that the flour cooks well
- Allow the flour and butter sauté until it becomes a golden brown mixture but it shouldn’t get burned
- Thereafter, reduce the heat and pour in the chilled milk, stirring continuously
- When you see the sauce thicken, it’s about time to take it off the stovetop
- Take it off the stove and add 3 or 4 cups of the shredded cheese. Stir the mixture until the cheese melts completely and gives you a white, creamy cheese sauce
- Thereafter, add the black pepper, spices & herbs, and salt
- Stir the sauce well
- Afterward, pour the pasta into the sauce and mix it thoroughly so that the sauce generously coats the pasta
- When you’re sure the pasta has enough of the creamy sauce already, set it aside and grease a baking pan
- Thereafter, transfer the mac and cheese mixture into the greased pan and add the breadcrumbs toppings
- Layer on the remaining shredded cheese and on the breadcrumbs and any other toppings
- Then, you can bake until you see the cheese melt, and mac and cheese begin to bubble. It should take 15 to 20 minutes to bake evenly
- When you’re it’s well cooked, bring out your creamy and cheesy mac and cheese. Serve hot
What can you eat with mac and cheese?
- Sloppy joes
- BBQ ribs
- Fried chicken thighs, breasts, or fish
- Pigs in blankets
- Salads – jello, fruit, or green salad
- Meatballs or meatloaf
- A bowl of chili
- Apple pie
- Sautéed apples
- Brownies with ice cream
- Pork tenderloin
- Hot dogs
- Grilled meats
- Brussel sprouts
- Roasted broccoli
- Air fryer asparagus
- Little smokies
What is the best cheese for mac and cheese?
Cheddar, parmesan, gruyere, gouda, fontina, and Monterey jack are some of the best cheeses you can use to make a delicious bowl of mac and cheese.
Can you use spaghetti for mac and cheese?
Yes, you can. Spaghetti is an excellent substitute for macaroni in mac and cheese. The thin, long noodles give you a different and fun texture.
Can you use penne instead of elbow macaroni for mac and cheese?
Yes, you can. If you don’t like elbow macaroni or you have run out of it, replace it with penne rigate. Penne rigate is also a type of macaroni and will give you a delicious mac and cheese dish.
Mac and cheese is a creamy and cheesy pasta dish that everyone loves. Mac is a short form for macaroni, the type of pasta used in this recipe. Get your favorite type of macaroni, your choice of cheese combination, your favorite toppings, and other ingredients that make up the recipe.
Serve mac and cheese for Sunday brunch with coleslaw or delicious meatballs.
Thanks for reading.
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