In time for Mother’s Day, here’s a recipe for that timeless and versatile Southern side, macaroni and cheese. It was passed down to me from my paternal grandmother who made mac-and-cheese frequently and often serve it with fried fish, ham or pork roast. When I taste it today, it’s a tether to memory: I can’t help but think of large family gatherings and plates overloaded with food. My favorite item among the crowd of casseroles and platters on the kitchen counter was always the mac-and-cheese.
This rich recipe feeds an army, but it can be easily divided if you only want to serve 6-8. It also freezes well. The amount of milk it requires seems like a mistake, but trust me. It’s what keeps the pasta creamy as it continues to absorb the liquid. The first step of the recipe is to make a quick sauce thickened by flour and enhanced with dry mustard. You’re not making roux, so no need to let it brown.
Macaroni and Cheese
5 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 ½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 ½ teaspoons dry mustard
6 ¼ cups milk
5 ½ cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
16 oz. elbow macaroni
Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Remove pot from heat and add flour, salt, pepper and dry mustard, whisking until incorporated.
Return pot to low heat and add milk. Stir until thickened and smooth. Add all but ½ cup cheese. Heat until melted, stirring occasionally. Cook elbow macaroni to al dente. Drain pasta and combine with sauce. Pour mixture into a deep 9×13 glass casserole, or two smaller dishes.
Sprinkle remaining cheese over top (or leave it off if you feel you have enough cheese). Bake for 25 minutes.