The thing I love most about Mac and Cheese is it freezes awesome. So I tend to make a giant batch of it and portion it out for several meals. In this instance I was making pre-portioned meals for my husband to take with him to work. I have used a lot of different types of cheeses, lately I have been favoring Swiss. Foodies will tell you Gruyere is the way to go, and it is absolutely delicious. It is also very expensive to feed to a two year old, my family likes Swiss just fine! Don’t leave out the nutmeg though! It sounds a little weird, but give it a try, it is so subtle you won’t know its nutmeg, but you will defiantly know if it is missing.
Here we go:
2 pounds of macaroni noodles
14 oz Swiss cheese, grated
14 oz mild cheddar (orange or white, which ever you have), grated
3 oz cream cheese
1/2 small onion
1-2 cups milk
3 Tablespoons butter
1/4 c. flour
In a large pot bring water to a boil for your noodles. Once it is boiling add about 2 Tablespoons of salt and the noodles. This will take about 10-12 minutes. I prefer a softer noodle for mac and cheese, but if you like them al dente, check them at 9 minutes.
Meanwhile, while you are waiting for your water to boil.
Grate your cheeses and the onion. This is a little secret. My kids love the taste of onion, right up until they see a piece of it, in which case the entire pot becomes poison. By grating it you retain the flavor and use much less onion, with out the risk of picky persons finding a piece.
In a small sauce pan melt your butter, add the onion and saute for just a minute or two to cook off some of the raw onion flavor. Add the flour to make a paste or rue. Slowly add your milk to this. You can warm the milk up, but I never do and it always turns out just fine. Just start slow. Your sauce should be a little thin before you add the cheese, much more like a gravy than a cheese sauce. Add about 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. You will want to taste it after you add your cheeses to see if you need more salt or pepper. We like pepper in our house, so I usually add more. Also add a healthy dash of nutmeg (Do it!). Mix this all up and add the cheeses. Stir constantly until the cheese is melted. Add more milk if it is too thick, start with about 1/4 cup, or a big splash. Add your cream cheese and stir until melted. Give it a final taste check and adjust any seasoning as needed.
At this time your noodles should be done. If you have a very large colander you are all set, if you are like me and only have a regular sized one, we have to get a little creative. So have a large bowl handy, or a storage container that you plan to use for freezing a meal (saves a dish). Drain the noodles in two batches if you need to then put them all back into their pot. Because this is such a large batch there will be a little more water retained then you would normally expect. Putting the noodles back in the hot pot and stirring for a minute will evaporate a lot of this extra moisture. Once you are satisfied that enough steam has come off the noodles, pour on your cheese sauce, mix well and enjoy!
If you are planning to freeze, you can divide this up into your containers, but allow it to cool for at least 15 minutes before freezing to avoid it getting icy.
Here is what it looks like: