Isn’t Mac & Cheese just one of the best comfort dishes to whip up? When it comes to Mac & Cheese, I look for that creamy texture and body. Flavour-wise, you want a nice balance of richness but not overly done where it becomes a little bit sickening. After many test and trials, from the choice of milk and cheese blends to various seasonings and spices, I’ve come down to this particular Mac & Cheese recipe which has become my ultimate go-to. The recipe hits all the spots I’ve just mentioned and features a subtle tease to the palate. It’s one I’ve never turned back on ever since finding this perfect balance of a recipe!
How to make the best Mac & Cheese
Using evaporated milk
Evaporated milk offers creaminess or body without the fat of real cream. In other words, it makes your mac & cheese creamier without tasting overly rich compared to using cream.
Essentially, evaporated milk is regular milk but without 60% of its water content, i.e. heated till evaporated. As a result, evaporated milk has a more concentrated flavour, even slightly caramelised, and is creamier in texture. It is not to be confused with condensed milk as condensed milk is sweetened and mostly used for desserts or as a sweetener in coffees and teas.
Evaporated milk is typically sold in canned form and commonly found at supermarkets.
I prefer a mix of both Cheddar Cheese and Mozzarella! You can find mixed shredded cheddar and mozzarella at Waitrose. If not, a cup of each cheese would work perfectly here. But that’s for me personally. You are more than welcome to either switch up the ratios of the cheeses or try a different cheese combination! Keep the mature cheddar cheese but feel free to play around with different cheese types and ratios to yield different flavours.
Spice it up a little
I like to spike my mac & cheese with a little tingle of spices, just to tease the palate a little, but not so much that it turns into a spicy one. For spices and seasoning, I used garlic powder, salt, black pepper, paprika, and harissa spice powder.
The final magic touch for me is the chives. Chives carry a naturally garlicky flavour, which gives the mac & cheese and final boost.
List of Ingredients
- Macaroni Pasta (or any tubular pasta shapes)
- Evaporated Milk
- Mixed Cheddar Cheese & Mozzarella, shredded
- Garlic Powder
- Harissa Spice Powder
- Black Pepper
- Plain Flour
- Chives (for garnish)
- When cooking the pasta, make sure you reserve about half a cup of pasta water for making the sauce. This is to loosen up the sauce and to prevent the mac & cheese from going dry.
- The making of the cheese sauce starts with a roux, which consists of cooking and incorporating together equal parts of fat (butter/margarine in this case) and flour. A roux acts as a base and a thickening agent for the sauce.
- Whisk in the evaporated milk little by little when adding it to the roux. This is to avoid any lumps in the sauce. Whisk until smooth before the next addition of the liquid.
Bake for a golden cheesy top (optional)
If you fancy, you can turn this mac & cheese into a golden cheesy bake! Simply preheat the oven to 200°C. Transfer the cooked mac & cheese into an ovenproof dish and top generously with cheddar cheese. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until the cheese has melted and turned golden in colour.
Mac & Cheese is more typically served as a side dish but can be served as a main dish too alongside with a salad or vegetables.
Some recipe ideas to serve it with:
The Best Mac & Cheese Recipe
- 250 g Macaroni Pasta
- 2 cups Evaporated Milk
- 2 cups Mixed Cheddar Cheese & Mozzarella grated
- 1 tsp Paprika
- 1½ tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
- 1 tsp Harissa Spice Powder
- 2 tbsp Butter/Margarine
- 2 tbsp Plain Flour
- 10 g Chives chopped
- Bring a large pot of water to boil, season generously with salt, and cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve about ½ cup of pasta water.
- In a separate pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add in flour and all the seasonings & spices in it. Keep stirring until it forms a smooth paste, i.e a roux.
- Stir in evaporated milk, little by little, until it forms a smooth mixture.
- Mix in the shredded cheese until melted and a smooth sauce is formed.
- Stir in the reserved pasta water, ¼ cup at a time, to loosen the sauce up.
- Fold in the cooked pasta and chives until combined. Serve hot.
Baking for a golden cheesy top (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 200°C.
- Transfer the cooked mac & cheese into an ovenproof dish. Top with remaining cheddar cheese.
- Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the cheese has melted and turned golden in colour. Serve hot.
- Cooking time excludes the oven-baking part, which is optional
- Evaporated milk offers a creamier texture and richer flavour than regular milk whilst not being as overly rich as using cream.
- It is important to reserve the pasta water for making the sauce as it helps to loosen the sauce up and prevents the mac & cheese from getting dry.
- If unable to find pre-mixed cheddar cheese and mozzarella, use 1 cup of each for the recipe
- Feel free to switch up the ratios of the cheeses or try a different cheese combination. I’d recommend keeping the mature cheddar cheese and play around with different cheese types and ratios to yield different flavours to your own liking.
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