One of my favorite things…

Mac and Cheese

When I first moved to Raleigh, my cousin recommended that I go to Poole’s Diner and try the Mac and Cheese.  I did.  It was wonderful. Rich, creamy and very heavy.  Google searching lead me to the recipe, so I re-created it, feeling wrong about the amount of heavy cream I consumed.  The next day, seeing it congealed in the fridge brought me sorrow.    After that experience, I vowed to make my own version using no heavy cream but maintaining the creamy rich flavor.  Here is where I landed, and if I have to toot my own horn, I will…it’s fantastic. It does require making a roux, but don’t be scared! I’ll talk you through it.

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8 oz Elbow macaroni

2 cups Milk (I use skim)

4 T Butter

1/4 tsp Paprika

1/4 c Flour

6 oz Gruyere cheese, shredded

4 oz Emmentaler cheese, shredded

1/4 tsp Nutmeg

1/4 tsp Dry mustard powder

Salt and Pepper to taste

How to

Preheat the oven to 375° and cook your pasta according to the directions on the package.  I like to salt the water right as its about to boil.  I read that doing this raises the temperature of the water and gives it a higher boiling point so the pasta will cook better than if you do not add salt.  After your pasta is cooked, drain it and set it to the side.

Now you are ready to make your roux.  It sounds silly, but I like to get my pasta cooked, cheese grated and all of my ingredients set to the side before beginning this process.  It requires your attention at all times and is easy to burn.  The first time I made a roux, I actually made two – one I termed “practice batch” and tossed it right in the trash.  I season the roux with my spices, so get those ready too!

In one sauce pan, heat your milk…not to a boil but nice and warm.  I start the milk off at a bout a medium low heat and lower it after a few minutes.  In another pan (I use my dutch oven but any heavy bottomed pot will do) on low heat, melt your butter.  Once it’s melted, add in your flour and whisk until combined.

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Now, add your warm milk and whisk for about another 2-3 minutes on low heat until the roux is creamy and thickened.  Add in your spices and whisk until combined.

Take your pot off the heat and add in your cheese, saving enough to top with (about 1/4 cup). Stir until smooth texture is achieved then add in your macaroni noodles.  Put all of this delicious mess in a baking dish and bake for about 25 minutes.

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Looks incredible, doesn’t it?  Now, top with your left over cheese and bake another 5 minutes, until nice and crispy.

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No joke! You will not be sorry.  I can not believe how creamy this turns out, even using skim milk.  It’s absolutely incredible.  Enjoy!!!

  • Jeff Frank
    March 4, 2014

    Looks great! Can’t wait to try it with this combo of cheeses. By the way, it’s worth noting that when adding the milk to the roux, do so very slowly. I usually add it in 1/4 cup increments and then whisk between additions. If you just dump all the milk in at one time you run the risk of getting clumps. Also, the longer you cook the roux, and the darker it gets, the less thickening power it has. A light colored roux will thicken much better than a dark one, however a dark one has a nice nutty flavor.

    • Piper Bombshell
      March 4, 2014

      Awesome! Thanks for the tips!! I dumped my milk in all at one time but I can definitely see how that could lead to lumps. I ended up just whisking like a maniac to keep the lumps from forming.

  • jill
    October 18, 2014

    Hi… Was very excited to make this dish. I liked the gruyere cheese ,and I also used Jarlsberg. I found the Jarlsberg to be a little too strong. You were right, very creamy non the less. I add chopped chicken, sauted mushrooms and cooked bacon. It was sooooo filling !!! I also doubled the receipe for a pound of pasta, a little worried about the nutmeg, but was fine.

    • Piper Bombshell
      October 18, 2014

      I’m so glad you tried my mac and cheese! I can see how the cheese may be too strong for some. I love the flavor of Jarlsberg mixed with the others, but don’t enjoy it quite as much on it’s own. I find that the nutmeg mellows down the flavor. I love the add in ideas! Bacon, especially. I was actually just considering adding in some bacon next time I make it, and baking it in a mini muffin pan to make bite size portions. Thanks for the comment.

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