Many people's experience cooking mac and cheese is limited to pasta from a box and cheese powder from the enclosed packet. But settling for the pre-packaged stuff isn't the only way to enjoy crave-worthy mac and cheese at home. This recipe shared on Martha Stewart's website proves that you don't need a culinary degree to make some of the best mac and cheese of your life.
This recipe was originally published in Kurt Beecher Dammeier's cookbook Pure Flavor. To start cooking it, you'll need 1/4 cup of grated Gruyere cheese, 1/4 cup of grated cheddar, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of chipotle-chile powder, butter or oil for greasing the baking dish, 6 ounces of the short pasta of your choice, and 2 cups of Beecher's Flagship Cheese Sauce. The recipe for the cheese sauce includes jack and cheddar, bringing the cheese total up to three. It also provides the mac and cheese with its all-important creaminess.
Once your ingredients are assembled, grease an 8-inch baking dish, preheat your oven to 350°F, and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and take it off the heat about two minutes sooner than the recommended cooking time. Strain the pasta, rinse under cold water, and strain out any excess water.
When the pasta is cool, stir it with the cheese sauce and add it to the baking dish. Top it with the grated cheeses and chile powder and bake uncovered for about 20 minutes. Once the top has browned slightly, pull it out of the oven and allow it to sit for about five minutes before digging in.
If you're teaching yourself how to cook at home, memorizing a few super-simple staple recipes is a good place to start. After mastering mac, try this pasta sauce recipe from Italian cooking icon Marcella Hazan that takes only three ingredients and less than an hour to make.
[h/t Martha Stewart]