Years ago I did a Call for Recipes for homemade mac & cheese. Many tasty recipes were submitted and I’ve used several with great success. There was one in particular, though, that caught my eye. It involved the microwave and seemed almost too easy. I finally tried the technique out last week and loved it so much it deserves its own post!
Cailean was the lovely person who shared the recipe with me. I checked with her and she has no clue where she got the recipe from, although there are many permutations of it online. She knows she didn’t make it up herself, but she did notice that her version doesn’t have butter, which is different than most other similar recipes. So, we’re just going to give Cailean credit. Sound good? Great!
You’ll still need the stovetop to cook the noodles, but the sauce gets cooked in the microwave. I kid you not, in the time it takes to boil the water and cook the noodles you will be done making the homemade mac & cheese. It’s super awesome and takes up as much of your time as boxed mac & cheese. Which begs the question, why would you ever go back to boxed mac & cheese after this?!
- 16-ounce package of pasta, small shells or elbow macaroni
- 2 cups milk
- 6 tablespoons flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- Two pinches nutmeg (optional)
- 2 cups shredded cheese (Cheddar is great on its own, but doing half gruyere-half cheddar is nice. For more mild flavor, half monterey jack-half cheddar nice, too.)
- ½ cup Panko bread crumbs (optional)
- 1 tablespoon melted butter (optional)
- Put the water for the pasta on to boil.
- Shred cheese. In a good-sized microwave-safe bowl, whisk together well the milk, flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg (if using). Stir in the cheese.
- When water comes to a boil, add pasta and cook according to package directions.
- While pasta is cooking, cook the milk-cheese mixture in the microwave on full power 1-2 minutes at a time, whisking after each time. Keep cooking until cheese is fully melted and you have a nice, smooth sauce (probably about 5 minutes total).
- Drain pasta, return to pot then add sauce and mix well.
- If you want to top the mac & cheese with breadcrumbs, boil the pasta in a wide, oven-safe pot (like my Le Creuset 5½ quart). After the mac & cheese is all mixed together in the pot, sprinkle evenly with panko bread crumbs (about ½ cup or so) then drizzle with butter. Place pan in oven under high broiler and cook until breadcrumbs start to brown, a few minutes. If you don't have an oven safe pot, feel free to transfer the mac & cheese to a 9" x 13" casserole dish before adding the bread crumbs and broiling in the oven.