A classic mac and cheese dish is one of those hearty comfort foods that most of us grew up on. (Well, I grew up on the box version… but a comfort food, never the less… love you mom!) Making it from scratch for my family is rewarding and delicious, and the combination of the cheeses I’ve used for this one gives this mac and cheese dish depth to it’s flavor.
A heaping serving and a side salad and you’re good to go! The bonus is you won’t be feeding your family a bunch of dyes and ingredients you can’t pronounce!
I used three different cheeses for this version and mmmmmm, it is such a great combo! Picky eaters at home? Making your own classic mac and cheese allows you to customize it to those finicky taste buds. The idea is to show you that making it from scratch can be easy so if you want to just use pre-bought shredded cheddar cheese (or other mix) go for it! I found some awesome local cheeses at the Calabasas Farmers Market that I used here.
I also have a picky eater so instead of adding sautéed onion to the mac and cheese, I cut up half an onion and added it to the cream with a bay leaf as it warms up to flavor it. Subtle, yet it does the trick! Shhhhhhhh….. (It’s usually all the way in – just had it sticking out for the photo.)
When wisking the roux, try to bring it to a color between white and blond. Don’t go too dark for mac and cheese because the darker your roux, the less thickening power it has. (Your science lesson for the day.)
One last thought… this version has a crispy Panko breadcrumb topping that is totally optional. I know from my own family experience that not everyone wants breadcrumbs. As a matter of fact, the last time I made this, I made half with and half without. The key to getting the breadcrumbs nicely browned is to sauté them in a separate pan then adding them on top near the end of your cook time. Feeling adventurous? For some extra flavor, add fresh minced herbs like thyme, lemon or other seasonings to the breadcrumbs. If you do add something to the topping, let us all know in the comments below.
(Thanks to my friend Cozette whose recipe I stole years and years ago and even though I’ve changed it up a lot, this is all her fault!)