Yeah, you can follow the instructions on a box of Kraft or something, but there’s something in me that makes me want to make a real from-scratch cheese sauce that isn’t powder stirred into liquid.
1 1/2 cups dry macaroni
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
1 cup whole milk
1/2 lb cheddar cheese, grated
sprinkles of salt
Boil the macaroni in salted water till almost done. Dump it into a colander to drain – don’t rinse it! – and let it sit while you do the other stuff.
In the same pot you just boiled the macaroni in, make the sauce: Melt the butter on low heat and dump in the flour, stirring to make a roux. Add the milk and slowly heat it on no more than medium heat, stirring most of the time, not letting it boil, till the liquid starts to thicken. It may take a few minutes, so be patient. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese, half at a time, till the cheese is melted pretty well. Put it back on the low heat and stir till it’s pretty smooth – If it’s too thick, add a little more milk; if it’s too thin, add a little more cheese. When it’s pretty smooth, add the macaroni back in, along with some salt, and stir it till it’s all smooth and consistent.
Tips & gotchas:
Don’t overcook the macaroni. In general, overcooked pasta is not as good as properly cooked pasta, and the macaroni will continue to cook a little in the sauce anyway.
Don’t start the roux with the pot so hot that the butter sizzles and turns brown. Burned butter is not good in anything.
You may be able to get away with using margarine and/or skim or lowfat milk… but hey, this is macaroni and cheese, so I’ve not tried that.
LOW HEAT for the sauce. If it’s too hot when you add the cheese, the cheese will glob and the butter will separate and you’ll be left with a stringy globby oily slop and there’s no way to fix it.
My experience and others’ advice is to not rinse the macaroni. I think it has something to do with the sticky starchiness adding to the sauce and avoiding water getting into the sauce.