Curly noodles drenched in creamy cheese: There's something about that combo that makes mac 'n' cheese a family fave. But what's extra-great about this dish is that you can make a big batch and eat one pan tonight – and freeze the other. And what better time to try than during National Frozen Food Month?
Freezer meals make serving home-cooked food on busy weeknights easier, since you can cook once and eat twice. This recipe is designed for the freezer with added moisture to keep the noodles plump when cooked and other tips – like undercooking the macaroni so it has just the right firmness after a trip into the oven.
You can keep your mac 'n' cheese plain or add something extra: Serve steamy bowls topped with leftover chicken or beef that's reheated with barbecue sauce. Stir in cubed ham or hotdog slices once it's baked. There's nothing better to heat up a cold day!
- Large pot
- Large bowl
- 2 half-size baker's aluminum pans
- 1 tsp. dry mustard
- 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. pepper
- 3 Tbsp. flour
- 4 Tbsp. butter
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 5 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1 lb. macaroni elbow or cavatappi pasta
- Grease or cooking spray for pans
- In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat; then add flour, mustard and nutmeg, stirring constantly until the mixture becomes almost like a paste. Whisking frequently, add in the chicken broth and cream (milk won't work as well in this dish). Turn up the heat until the mixture just comes to a boil and thickens. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes (stir constantly!). Remove from heat and add cheeses along with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Bring water in a large pot to a boil with 1 tablespoon of salt. Add pasta and cook for 3 minutes, or until just cooked. (The pasta will get fully cooked once it's baked with the sauce.) Drain the pasta in strainer and rinse in cold water to prevent sticking.
- In a large bowl, stir the pasta and sauce together (allow to cool for 10 minutes if you're going to be freezing). Pour mix into two greased aluminum casserole pans.
- For freezing: Seal the aluminum baking dishes with plastic wrap and then foil. After freezing, and when you're ready to bake, remove the plastic wrap and place the foil back on the casserole dish. Bake in an oven preheated to 375 F for 20 minutes. Remove foil and add extra shredded cheese on top (optional) and bake for 20-25 more minutes or until the cheese is bubbly around the edges of the pan. Let the mac 'n' cheese cool for 10 minutes before serving for maximum sauciness!