You know, there are some recipes that only one’s (insert your choice) grandmother, mother, father, aunt can make the best. For me, my Mom’s mac ‘n’ cheese is one of those recipes. There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles with this version of a classic dish. It’s not gourmet in any way- no truffle oil, expensive cheeses, or exotic spices. In fact, I was disappointed when my mom told me she got the recipe from the back of a pasta box when she was first learning to cook as a young mother and wife. I had been imagining this grandiose tale of a secret family recipe that had been passed down through generations, dating back to the American revolution. In my mind, famous generals and First Ladies were involved in the preservation of this treasured jewel. It seemed (and still seems) more special than a tiny blip next to the nutrition facts on the back of box. And, in reality, it is.
My Mom made this mac ‘n’ cheese on several occasions while I was growing up. I grew so fond of it that I requested she make when it was her turn to host the team dinner for my high school volleyball and basketball teams. My teammates grew to love it as well. It was a constant, a comfort if you will. So much a comfort, that whenever I take a meal to someone nowadays, my Mom’s mac ‘n’ cheese recipe always comes to the forefront of my mind. It’s so much more than just another baked pasta dinner. It’s something I make with love out of respect for the love my Mom put into making it. Even though the recipe doesn’t originate with my great great great grandmother, my Mom made it special because of the memories she created with us. As cheesy (pun intended) as it may sound, taking a bite of this mac ‘n’ cheese evokes such happiness. My mom is a very exceptional and unique woman. She isn’t a typical mother. She isn’t overly sentimental or “touchy/feely,” but my Mom has an uncanny ability to light up a room and make people smile. That’s what I think of when I get to sit down and enjoy her simple macaroni ‘n’ cheese- the fun, the jokes, and the belly-aching laughter. I hope I can be the same example for my future kids.
I love you, Mom.
Mom’s Macaroni ‘n’ Cheese
Yield: 8 servings
- 1 12oz box elbow macaroni, cooked until al dente
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 1/2 cups low fat milk
- 1 pound American cheese, cubed
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 10 inch round baking dish with oil and set aside.
2. Place a medium saucepan over medium heat. Melt the butter. Add in the flour and whisk until smooth and slightly thickened. Carefully add in the milk, salt and pepper. Allow the milk to heat to a low boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat and add in the cheese. Stir until the cheese melts. Remove from heat and add in the cooked pasta. Stir until combined (mixture will appear soupy).
3. Pour the macaroni ‘n’ cheese into the baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes, uncovered. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Source: My Mom, originally from Creamette