Growing up I knew there were two kinds of macaroni and cheese. The one from the blue box and the one my mother made. I liked them both but I remember liking the one from the box a bit more (why, oh why?) but as I grew up my mom’s macaroni and cheese tasted better and better.
I make macaroni and cheese just like my mother – lots of cheese, eggs, whole milk, etc… and I thought that was how everyone made macaroni and cheese. Then one day I made some for a friend and they looked at it questioningly. They had never seen macaroni and cheese like this. They were expecting macaroni and cheese – that’s it just macaroni and cheese with a bit of milk mixed in to smooth out the texture. Hmmm.
So, after some research I figured out I have been making Traditional Southern Macaroni and Cheese. It has more of a creamy custard base and not the smooth creamy base of a stove top macaroni and cheese. It is my kids favorite dish and we have been making it for years.
Which way do you prefer your macaroni and cheese?
This is a dish we can all agree on. I vary the cheeses from time to time depending on what I have leftover in the cheese drawer. It can range from blue cheese to feta to Swiss and plain cheddar cheese. I try to mix two or three cheeses that I think will go well together each time.
I love that I can make the dish when I have a bit of free time. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and put it in the refrigerator until I am ready to bake it later in the evening. Last night was the last dance class until August so we were home at 8:15 pm. The pan could be popped in the oven and baked for 45 minutes while we were gone and dinner was easy for everyone.
Traditional Southern Macaroni and Cheese
- 1 (16 oz) box pasta, cooked al dente according to directions – preferably elbows but I didn’t have any so I used Rotini
- 1/2 cup butter
- 2 cups whole milk or half and half
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 16 oz. shredded cheese – your choice cheddar, Swiss, Monterey Jack or combination
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 9 x 13 casserole dish or spray with non-stick cooking spray.
- Boil the pasta and drain according to package directions for al dente.
- Return pasta to pan and stir in butter until melted. Slowly add in milk, salt, pepper and cheese stirring continually until all is melted through and well combined. You may need to turn the burner back on if the pasta is not hot enough to melt the ingredients. Be careful to keep stirring and not burn the pasta or sauce.
- Whisk eggs in a small bowl and add to the pasta and cheese mixture once the mixture has cooled off a bit or otherwise your eggs will cook into scrambled eggs in the dish. Stir them into the mixture well.
- Pour into prepared casserole dish. Cover with aluminum foil if desired to keep from forming a crust on top. This is up to you but we like the crust.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until center is set. Remove pan from oven and allow to set for 5 minutes before serving.