College Student Mac-n-Cheese

So, as a mostly independent college student (I pay for the ridiculous rent of my Ithaca apartment, groceries, shopping expenses, and alcohol [sparingly]), I’ve learned how to live on five things: Ramen, Mac-n-cheese (classic), Bread, Cheese and Bacon. There are just so many different things you can do with these five crucial ingredients, but today I will share a tried & true recipe… The Classic College Mac (-n-Cheese).

Ingredients for the Bechamel (cheese sauce):

3 cups whole milk (1 use 2% though because I’m on a diet)

1/2 cup salted butter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

fresh cracked black pepper

For the Mac:

3/4 pound dried elbow macaroni

1 1/2 cups grated  sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 cup grated gruyere cheese (YUM) 

1/3 cup panko bread crumbs, toasted in the oven until golden

Process:

To make the Bechamel, heat the milk until it almost begins to boil.  Remove from heat and pour into a large liquid measuring cup.  Set aside.

In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat.  Once melted, add the flour and whisk constantly until the mixture turns light brown, about 3 minutes.  Remove from the heat.

Slowly pour in milk 1 cup at a time, whisking constantly.  The mixture will begin to thicken once the first cup is added, but will thin out as all of the milk is added.

Return pot to medium heat and whisk constantly for 2 to 3 minutes as the sauce thickens.  Sauce will become silky and thick.  To test the thickness, dip a metal spoon into the sauce.  If the sauce coats the spoon and doesn’t look translucent or slide off the spoon like milk, it’s done!  Stir in salt and pepper.

Remove from heat.

Stir in cheddar and gruyere cheese.  Stir until cheese is melted and thoroughly combined.  Taste and season accordingly.

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente.  Drain, rinse the pasta in cold water, and drain again.

Add the cooked pasta to the warm sauce.  Serve immediately, or place in an oven proof dish for easy re-heating and serving.  Top with toasted breadcrumbs just before serving. 

Voila! The perfect mac-n-cheese on a college/affordable diet! Enjoy. 

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