This is one of our recipe gems, and we wanted to make sure that we got it perfect for you guys before we put it on here. Its coincidental origin resulted from using what we had on hand. Nate had a bad day at work, so I tried to cook something that would make him feel better. We had white cheddar in the fridge and some macaroni shells. I took a walk to gather some rosemary, and this recipe was born. Since then, it’s been a staple for us whenever we need something rich and delicious—and quick. Comfort food from scratch isn’t usually something that’s ready to eat quickly, but this recipe provides the most satisfying mac and cheese either one of us have ever eaten (we are experts) and is ready in 20 minutes or less from start to finish. Another intriguing thing about this recipe is that we don’t use béchamel to make it. This means we don’t add flour. Instead of using an extra thickener to give the sauce its luscious texture, we rely on the starchiness from the noodles. This recipe will work with gluten-free noodles as well.
- ½ lb. large elbow macaroni noodles
- 1 tbs. + ½ tbs. butter, divided
- 1 12-inch branch of rosemary, leaves stripped, very finely minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 cup cream
- ¼ lb. sharp white cheddar, shredded
- Freshly cracked pepper
- ⅓ cup panko breadcrumbs
In a large pan, bring enough slightly salted water to cover the noodles to a boil. Add the noodles and cook until just under al dente, about 10 minutes.
While the macaroni is cooking, prepare the sauce. In a larger sauce pan, melt 1 tbs. of butter on medium high heat until it starts to brown. Add the rosemary and the garlic and cook until the aroma in them just starts to release. This only takes seconds. Add the cream, allow it to come up to boiling temperature on medium high heat, then turn the heat down to low. Add the cheese and whisk it in, stirring occasionally until all the cheese is melted. Feel free to add a generous amount of black pepper. Let the sauce reduce slightly until it coats the back of a spoon, then turn off the heat.
When the noodles are done, strain them in a colander then stir them into the sauce. As the sauce cools with the noodles in it, it will thicken up. Stir occasionally to help the mac and cheese thicken evenly. When the mac and cheese has cooled, it can be plated up.
Make the breadcrumbs by melting ½ tablespoon of butter in a small pan on medium high heat, then add the panko crumbs. Stir constantly until the breadcrumbs become even more crispy and a beautiful golden brown. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top.