Baked Mac and Cheese is a classic comfort food that never goes out of style. Known for its creamy, cheesy sauce and golden-brown crust, it’s a favorite among children and adults alike. Perfect for family dinners, potlucks, or holiday gatherings, you’ll find this dish satisfying and relatively simple to prepare.
- 8 ounces elbow macaroni
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 cups milk
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease a 2-quart baking dish and set aside.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the elbow macaroni and cook until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain the pasta and set aside.
3. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk together, cooking for 1-2 minutes until smooth.
4. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture thickens. Stir in the salt, black pepper, ground mustard, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder.
5. Remove the saucepan from heat, and add 1.5 cups of the shredded sharp cheddar cheese and the grated Parmesan cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted and smooth.
6. Combine the cooked macaroni and cheese sauce in the greased baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining sharp cheddar cheese on top.
7. In a small bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs and melted butter. Sprinkle over the top of the casserole.
8. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is golden and bubbling.
9. Allow the baked mac and cheese to cool for a few minutes before serving.
The history of Baked Mac and Cheese
Baked Mac and Cheese is believed to have originated in Northern Europe, particularly England, where pasta dishes were layered with cheese and baked in a casserole in the 14th century.
The recipe gained popularity in the United States when Thomas Jefferson brought a pasta machine back from his tour in France and served macaroni and cheese at a state dinner in 1802. In the 1930s, the dish became a household staple when Kraft Foods introduced boxed macaroni and cheese.
Curiosities and cultural significance
Baked Mac and Cheese has a timeless appeal and enjoys strong cultural significance in America, especially in the Southern United States. It is often served during the holiday season, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. During these gatherings, family recipes are often passed down through generations, each with its unique twist on the classic dish.
The basic recipe may vary according to personal preferences, with some using different cheeses, spices, or additions like diced tomatoes, bacon, and mushrooms to create their signature dish. This versatility ensures that Baked Mac and Cheese continues to be a well-loved comfort food for generations to come.