Best Weeknight Mac & Cheese

Is there anything that chases away the late-winter blues like mac & cheese? No, but the truth is that we eat the stuff all year ‘round — weather be damned!

This recipe is a weeknight favorite because it’s made with staples we generally keep around, like sharp cheddar, macaroni noodles, and evaporated milk. Say what? Yes, evaporated milk, and here’s why: it’s super easy to work with (take that, roux!) and it makes a velvety smooth cheese sauce.

We also use Gouda cheese, powdered garlic and onion, and plenty of hot sauce. The result is a multi-dimensional mac & cheese that’s as savory and smoky and full of spicy tang as it is luxuriously creamy. And yet, dear friends, not so tasty your kids won’t dig it.

Servings: 6

1 lb elbow macaroni
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
5 oz evaporated milk
3 cups heavy cream
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp Green Tabasco
5 oz 2-year sharp cheddar, grated, plus more for topping
5 oz smoked Gouda, grated, plus more for topping
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Hot sauce, for garnish

1.  Place an oven rack about 5” below the broiler. Preheat the oven to broil.
2. Cook the pasta to al dente according to the package instructions. Strain the pasta and set it aside.
3. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, melt the unsalted butter over medium heat.
4. Stir in the evaporated milk, heavy cream, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, and Tabasco. Bring the cream to a gentle simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
5. Add the shredded cheddar in 4 batches, sprinkling it over the hot cream and whisking continuously until melted. Note: Do not add too much cheese at one time. Allowing the cheese to melt completely between additions will give you a smooth, creamy cheese sauce.
6. Add the shredded gouda in 4 batches, sprinkling it over the hot cream and whisking continuously until melted.
7. Season the cheese sauce with salt and black pepper to taste.
8. Add the cooked pasta to the pot and stir until well coated. Note: the mac and cheese will be very creamy.
9. Transfer the mac & cheese to a 9x13” baking dish and top with more shredded cheddar and Gouda.
10. Broil the mac & cheese for about 3 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and begins to bubble. Let cool for 5 minutes and serve.

Recipe source: Neil Bertucci and Elsa Goldman

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