Perfect Stovetop Mac and Cheese
To this day, I still don’t know how I got so lucky with this recipe. I’ve been making it for years now, and it hasn’t really changed at all. Nate and I still swear that it’s the most satisfying mac and cheese we’ve ever had. It’s rich, tasty, and can be ready in about 10 minutes when you get comfortable with the recipe.
No long list of sauce ingredients.
No aggravating prep.
No béchamel sauce.
Perfect Mac and Cheese:
2 oz elbow macaroni
¼ cup whipping cream
1 oz of a good melting cheese, shredded
Note: You have a lot of freedom with this. Cheddar is the obvious choice, and it’ll come out great if you use it, but feel free to get creative here. We’ve made this recipe and yielded awesome results while using Gruyere, white cheddar, young Manchego, Jarlsberg, and Gouda. So go nuts and find whichever cheese/blend tastes the best for you; just make sure that it melt well before diving in.
Salt and pepper to taste
Panko Crumb Topping:
½ tablespoon panko crumbs
1 teaspoon canola or other neutral oil
Simultaneously bring a small pot of salted water to a boil along with warming the whipping cream in sauce pan on medium low heat. Add the macaroni to the boiling water and cook until al dente, then strain and toss the macaroni into the warm cream. Add the cheese right afterward and stir constantly until the cheese is incorporated and totally melted into the sauce, then remove the pan from the heat.
The cream sauce will be pretty loose at first, but the starch from the noodles will eventually thicken things up over the next couple of minutes. This is a good time to season your noodles with salt and pepper (I like to use a loooooot of pepper). You should be able to drag a spoon or a spatula along the bottom of the pan and have it leave a clear path before serving the mac and cheese. If your noodles congeal a little too much, you can always add a little bit of water (or cream) to loosen it back up again. Stir them occasionally while you carry out the next step.
While the noodles are cooling, heat a small, preferably non-stick pan on medium high heat with the canola oil in it, then and the panko crumbs. Be sure to toss them very frequently so that they get evenly coated in the oil and that everything browns consistently. Once your crumb topping is golden brown, remove it from the heat. Serve your mac and cheese in the serving vessel of your choosing and pour the golden panko crumbs on top (the sizzling sound is really satisfying if you do this right after the crumbs are done browning in the pan).
Pro tip: If you’re wanting to cook more than one portion of this, just stack the proportions for how many people you’re cooking for. This recipe cooks well in large batches.