This post was last updated on November 26, 2014 to include new images and a recipe video.
This week, I’d like to share a recipe Dustin actually created.
I know I am the one with the food blog and all, but Dustin is actually the one who used to do all the cooking in our home. Yep, I used to happily take the sous chef role while he prepared things Beef Stroganoff, Chicken Cordon Bleu, Spaghetti, Steaks and Garlic Bread.
Then, somewhere along the way, I realized ways I could improve the recipes he had learned from his dad. I started researching recipes and techniques and trying to make all the pieces from scratch.
And we both found we liked the “from scratch” method best.
Slowly, but surely, I took over the main cooking role in our family.
But Dustin still loves to cook very much and has, in one way or another, helped with almost each and every recipe I’ve ever done.
Even if that meant being my guinea pig taster.
Wow, that doesn’t sound good! You got what I meant that, right? He was my recipe taster…I didn’t actually feed him guinea pigs.
Anyways, Dustin and I have been cooking together a lot lately and really enjoying it. While he will always be The Griller, he has perfected this Baked Mac and Cheese recipe. Like seriously perfected.
While watching him prepare this baked mac ‘n cheese the other day, it was fun to let him dictate the ingredients this time while I wrote them down and took pictures.
Nice change of pace.
One note about this mac ‘n cheese recipe: you’ll notice we don’t actually use macaroni noodles in this recipe. Instead, we use penne noodles because they hold up a lot better when baking and can carry more ooey, gooey, cheesy goodness with every cheesy bite.
Nonetheless, I hope you enjoy this yummy baked Mac ‘n Cheese. It’s a definite household favorite for us.
Baked Mac ‘n Cheese
- 1 lb. package penne noodles (can also use macaroni or shells)
- 4 tbsp. unsalted butter (plus more to grease baking dish)
- 4 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
- ½ tsp. ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp. garlic powder
- 1½ cups heavy cream
- 1 cup milk
- 4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated and divided
- 2 cups jack cheese, grated and divided
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a medium-sized casserole/baking dish with softened butter and set aside (I use a 9x9x2 dish).
- Fill a large stock pot full of water and heat over high heat. Add 1 tbsp. kosher salt to the water to help flavor the noodles.
- When the noodles are "al dente" (still firm, but mostly cooked), remove and drain. Make sure to not completely cook through, as they will continue to cook when baked. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Once melted, sprinkle in flour and stir to combine.
- Mix in the remaining 2 tsp. kosher salt, the pepper and the garlic powder.
- Slowly add the cream into the mixture, stirring constantly. There will be tiny bits of the flour mixture that remain once the cream in fully combined, but that's okay.
- Add the milk and stir to incorporate.
- Bring the mixture almost to a boil, then reduce to low and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes, until thickened.
- Sprinkle in 3 cups of the cheddar and 1 cup of the jack, stirring well to melt. Cook an additional 4-6 minutes. Remove from heat.
- In a large mixing bowl (or in the pot used to cook the noodles), mix the drained noodles with the cheese sauce.
- Add mixture to the greased baking dish.
- Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup cheddar and 1 cup jack cheese evenly over the top.
- Bake 20-25 minutes, uncovered, until bubbly and golden brown.