It’s not always easy to make a favorite meal without tossing leftovers when you’re a single or you have a small family. This recipe works best for me since it’s just enough for about two servings. Gotta pause here to give a shout-out to my son-in-law who taught me the proper way to make a roux! Here’s a tip: Slow with low heat is key. Traditional mac and cheese is made with cheddar only but this one also contains Monterey Jack because that’s a personal favorite. Go traditional or use a mixture as long as you buy it in a block and shred it yourself. Pre-shredded cheese doesn’t always melt well because it contains stabilizers to prevent it from sticking together in the package. Also, the bread crumb topping is entirely optional. I like the crunch; leave it off if you prefer.
1 cup (NOT 8 ounces of pasta by weight) uncooked elbow macaroni or cavatappi pasta
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup milk
3 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
2 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons seasoned bread crumbs
ground black pepper
large (5-quart) pot
small (1-quart) heavy-bottomed pot
measuring cups and spoons
three 8-ounce ramekins
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Cook pasta in large pot according to package directions until al dente. Drain, then return to large pot.
3. Melt butter in small pot over low heat.
4. Whisk in flour and stir continually until mixture thickens — about 45 seconds.
5. Slowly pour in half and half and milk and whisk until mixture thickens again — about 3 -4 minutes on VERY low heat.
6. Remove from heat, slowly add both cheeses, and slowly stir with fork continually until cheeses melt.
7. Add cheese sauce to pasta, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir until pasta is coated thoroughly.
8. Divide pasta evenly between ramekins. Sprinkle bread crumbs evenly over top of each.
9. Bake until bread crumbs are golden brown — about 15 minutes.
NOTES & TIPS
• Make sure to remove the pot from heat before stirring in the cheeses. If the mixture is too hot, the cheese will seize up and begin to pull away from the sides of the pot.