Whether it is time for lunch or dinner, a side dish that can be paired with your meal is always an essential piece of the dinner table tableau. Plus, once you have this deliciously creamy baked mac and cheese recipe from Food 52 in your back pocket, you’ll never find yourself without a reliable side dish at your disposal.
Because this recipe has you baking the mac and cheese, it makes it simple to prepare the ingredients alongside the remainder of your meal, mix them together in your preferred casserole dish, and cook in your oven at whatever time aligns with your main course. Though, the freshly-grated cheeses included in this recipe serve to make this dish upstage your primary protein if you’re not too careful.
This recipe only calls for about 15 minutes of prep time, which can easily be done as you prep or cook your other ingredients. The cooking time is stated as being 30 minutes with the resulting dish suited to serve 4-6 people, but you can always multiply the ingredients so as to whip up a larger batch. In fact, if you’re a fan of cheesy leftovers, that might just be a great idea.
Baked Mac and Cheese Ingredients:
5 cups of whole milk
10 tablespoons of unsalted butter
½ cup of all-purpose flour
1 additional tablespoon of all-purpose flour
3 ounces of aged provolone, grated
4 ½ ounces of asiago fresco, grated
4 ½ ounces of fontina, grated
¾ pound of fresh mozzarella, grated
1 pound of cavatappi pasta
Kosher salt, to taste
Directions for Baked Mac and Cheese:
- You’ll begin this recipe by setting a large pot of water on your stove to boil and then cook your pasta. Set the pot to high heat, add a small dash of salt, and cover it almost completely so as to let the water reach its boiling point.
- Set another large pot on another burner, but set this one to medium heat. Melt your butter in the pot and add in your flour, whisking it for 1 to 2 minutes. While whisking constantly, add in your milk and you will begin to notice a paste form. Continue adding your milk until all 5 cups are used, and be sure to whisk the pot throughout the process until it’s completely smooth with no lumps. Simmer the pot until your milk, butter, and flour sauce begins to thicken to the consistency of a thin gravy.
- While your sauce is busy thickening, reduce your heating element from medium to low. Add in your grated fontina, provolone, and asiago cheeses. Stir them into the sauce until all of the grated cheeses have melted completely. At this point, taste the sauce and adjust the salt accordingly. Be sure to keep your pot on the lowest-possible heat so as to only warm the sauce, and preheat your oven to 450°F.
- At this point, your pasta water should be boiling. The salt you’ve added before should make the pasta water taste like a highly-seasoned soup broth. Cook your pasta for half the time that’s suggested on the box. You’repurposefully undercooking the pasta so that it will finish cooking in the oven with the cheeses.
- After it’s properly undercooked, drain your pasta and add it to your cheese sauce. Stir the noodles into the sauce thoroughly, and carefully transfer your mixture to a large, shallow baking dish. It’s preferred that your baking dish have more surface area so as to allow for more small crispy bits that truly elevate the texture.
- Sprinkle your fresh mozzarella cheese on top of your pasta and bake it for 10 to 15 minutes, until you begin to see the sauce bubbling up around your noodles. Then, broil your mac and cheese for 1 to three minutes until your mozzarella is brown and crispy.
- Remove it from the oven, let it cool slightly, and serve immediately.
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