Homemade Stovetop Mac and Cheese with Herb Breadcrumbs

Lisa writes: I want to start making homemade mac and cheese for my kids (the boxed stuff grosses me out), but I’ve never tried. Advice?? Quick and easy is what I’m hoping for.

Tony’s take: I’m with you in this fight, Lisa. Macaroni and cheese has become my raison d’etre. It’s the gateway processed food. The habit may start innocently enough, but the next thing you know, you’re a teenager on somebody’s basement couch, chasing handfuls of Cheetos and Jax with hits of Cheese Whiz. Full disclosure: that story is my own; I lived it. And I never fully recovered; I still have a soft spot for Cheez-its and Cheetos (and, hell, Laughing Cow cheese cubes). The thing is, you can do better. Homemade mac and cheese is really easy – about 20 minutes, or the time it takes to cook pasta. For what you’re up to, Lisa, you’re best off confining the cooking to the stovetop (ie: no baking). Cook a small-shaped pasta (like elbows or mini shells), mix with a quick cheese sauce (milk thickened with flour and cheese – cheddar, Monterrey Jack, Parmigiano, whatever), and sprinkle with toasted Panko for crunch. And it’s as easy as that, though you can always embellish, depending on the taste bud tolerance of your crew:  fold in some sauteed wild mushrooms, browned ground beef, blanched green vegetables (like asparagus, green beans, or peas), or pantry ingredients (like sun-dried tomatoes). And then be a proud mom because you’re doing right by the next generation!

IMG_0036

The Recipe

(Serves 4 to 6)

1. Make the sauce: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (about 3 or 4 quarts water with 2 Tbs. salt). Meanwhile, melt 4 Tbs. butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add 4 Tbs. all-purpose flour and cook, whisking, so the buttery paste turns light brown and has a slightly toasted smell, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 2 1/2 cups milk (preferably whole – to speed things up, zap the milk in the microwave for 1-2 min so it’s warm before this step) and cook, whisking every 30 seconds or so  to break up any floury lumps, until the mixture almost comes to a simmer and starts to thicken, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar and 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano and salt and pepper to taste.

OPTIONAL: Depending on your crowd, add in 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme, a couple drops of Tabasco as well as blanched broccoli or sauteed mushrooms or browned ground meat.

IMG_0040

2. Meanwhile, make the breadcrumbs: Set a large skillet over medium heat. Add 3/4 cup Panko, 2 Tbs. olive oil, and 1/2 tsp. kosher salt and mix well. Once the breadcrumbs start to sizzle, about 2 minutes, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring, until they brown uniformly, about 10 minutes total. Stir in 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme if you like.

IMG_0043

3. Cook the pasta: Add 1 lb. pasta (choose a small shape like elbows) to the boiling salted water and cook, stirring occasionally, until it becomes tender, about 10 minutes (check the times on the box). Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta well and return it to the pot. Add the cheese sauce to the pasta, set over medium heat, and cook, stirring, until the cheese sauce coats the pasta nicely, 1 to 2 minutes; add a splash of the pasta water if the pasta becomes dry. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve the pasta sprinkled with the Panko crumbs.

IMG_0064

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

39 thoughts on “Homemade Stovetop Mac and Cheese with Herb Breadcrumbs”

  1. Yay – this is a great post Tony — love the sounds of this and I’m going to do it for my boyfriend’s 8 year old when she’s here. I think kids like the stovetop version better than baked. Anyway, thanks for this! Susie

  2. Thank you for the sensible critique. Me & my neighbor were just preparing to do a little research about this. We got a grab a book from our local library but I think I learned more from this post. I’m very glad to see such magnificent information being shared freely out there.

  3. Excellent goods concerning Ditch the box! Homemade Stovetop Mac and Cheese | Cook Angel from you, man. I have take note your stuff previous to and you’re just extremely great. I actually like what you have bought right here, really like what you’re saying and the way in which you say it. You make it enjoyable and you continue to care for to stay it wise. I can not wait to read far more from you. That is really a great web site.

  4. Great beat ! I wish to apprentice whilst you amend your web site, how could i subscribe for a blog site? The account helped me a applicable deal. I were a little bit acquainted of this your broadcast offered bright transparent concept

  5. Ditch the box! Homemade Stovetop Mac and Cheese | Cook Angel I have really learned result-oriented things through your blog post. One more thing to I have found is that usually, FSBO sellers will certainly reject you actually. Remember, they would prefer not to ever use your solutions. But if a person maintain a gradual, professional romance, offering assistance and staying in contact for four to five weeks, you will usually be capable of win an interview. From there, a listing follows. Thanks a lot

  6. Hiya, I am really glad I have found this information. Nowadays bloggers publish only about gossip and web stuff and this is really frustrating. A good site with exciting content, that’s what I need. Thanks for making this website, and I’ll be visiting again. Do you do newsletters? I Can’t find it.

  7. “Having read this I thought it was extremely informative. I appreciate you taking the time and effort to put this write-up together. I once once again discover myself spending way to much time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was nonetheless worth it!”

  8. hey there and thank you for your information – I have certainly picked up something new from right here. I did however expertise a few technical issues using this web site, as I experienced to reload the site lots of times previous to I could get it to load properly. I had been wondering if your web hosting is OK? Not that I am complaining, but slow loading instances times will sometimes affect your placement in google and can damage your high quality score if advertising and marketing with Adwords. Anyway I’m adding this RSS to my e-mail and can look out for a lot more of your respective exciting content. Ensure that you update this again very soon..

Leave a Reply