Better than Box Stove Top Mac-n-Cheese

Original Recipe Stove Top Mac N Cheese by Alton Brown

_MG_7492This recipe beats the pants off of any box type macaroni and cheese out there. You know the stuff that uses powdered cheese and looks like an unnatural orange goo when it’s cooked?  Yes, that stuff; that if you’re like me you ate a lot of when you were a kid. In fact, we ate it as often as 3 or 4 times a week because I was the child of a single mother who owned her own business and many nights it was my responsibility to cook something for my younger brother and I to eat for dinner; and well, box mac and cheese was easy (that’s why it’s in their name.) While this recipe is for stove top mac and cheese, it’s simply not in the same hemisphere as the box stuff. This is an adult mac and cheese, with full flavor and real ingredients (no powdered cheese woo hoo!) and comes out creamy and delicious.

This recipe is from an episode of Good Eats entitled For Whom the Cheese Melts 2. My Other Half and I are huge fans of Good Eats, an educational cooking show that aired between 1999 and 2012 created and hosted by the brilliant and masterful Alton Brown. If you’re not familiar, I believe the entire catalog is available for streaming on Netflix, and I cannot recommend it enough. It blends cooking, science and the chemistry of food in a way that not only informs, but also entertains and best of all, there’s sock puppets. Many of Alton’s recipes are staples in our kitchen. He has a knack for really figuring out food and not just the ingredients, but also the technique and tools needed to get the most out of the flavors. As you can tell, we’re believers of the Tao of Alton and have been for many years.

Of course Alton’s methods are not always the most conventional: he prefers to use weights instead of standard measurements, but once you begin to trust in his process you will see the light. And you’ll buy a food scale. This is not the first Alton recipe I will feature, nor will it be the last. It is one of my favorites though. We don’t make it often because it’s not the healthiest food option, but every once in a while it’s great to sit down with a big bowl and remember that in many ways being a grown up has its privileges. Enjoy!

Makes 4-6 servings

1/2 lb elbow macaroni
4 TB unsalted butter
2 eggs
6 oz evaporated milk
1/2 tsp hot sauce
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
Fresh black pepper
10 oz of sharp cheddar cheese shredded. I prefer 7.5 oz of Cabot Seriously Sharp and 2.5 oz of Cabot White Oak Cheddar. This produces a very smooth cheddar flavor.

Combine eggs, evaporated milk, hot sauce, salt, pepper and mustard in a bowl; whisk together. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box or boil water in a large pot (>6 qt) and cook pasta in salted water for about 6 minutes / until pasta is al dente. Reduce heat to low and toss pasta back into the pot. Add the butter and stir to coat. Add milk and egg mixture slowly, stirring regularly. This will allow the mixture to turn creamy instead of coagulate the eggs. Add cheese and stir for 3 minutes or until creamy. Immediately remove from heat and serve. If you leave the pot on the heat for too long, the oil will separate and you will have oily pasta.

Pro tip: When reheating leftovers, use a small pot (2 qt) on low heat, add about 1/8 C evaporated milk, then add the left over mac and cheese. Stir regularly until heated all the way through and creamy; add more evaporated milk as needed. This will guarantee your mac and cheese will be as perfect as the first time. If you choose to heat it up in the microwave, the high heat will cause the oil to separate; not recommended.


Nutrition facts per serving (6 servings)
Calories: 456
Fat: 26.7 g
Cholesterol: 142 mg
Potassium: 0 mg
Carbs: 31 g
Fiber: 1.4 g
Sugars: 4.3 g
Protein: 20.4 g
Vitamin A: 17.5%
Vitamin C: 0%
Calcium: 42%
Iron: 8.1%

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