There are few comfort foods that I love better than a good macaroni and cheese, in all its carby cheesy goodness. Growing up, my mom made mac and cheese with Velveeta. Honestly I still have a love affair with Velveeta. That stuff melts incredible, doesn’t it? I’ve tried for years and years to get truly creamy macaroni and cheese without using processed cheese. I think I’ve tried every recipe on the internet. I tried recipes using a roux, with flour and butter to thicken. I’ve tried recipes where you boil the noodles in milk. I’ve tried stovetop recipes. I’ve tried baked recipes. You name it, I’ve tried it. I never was satisfied.
This recipe that I’m sharing with you today, though….it’s good. It’s creamy. It’s easy. It’s not gritty like those made with a roux. It takes the same amount of time as boxed mac and cheese. It’s a win win in my book. It doesn’t have the exact same taste as Velveeta though and it’s different than the boxed kind, but we really love it around here. The best part is, it’s made with all real ingredients. Truthfully though, pasta is a compromise food for us. The grains in the pasta aren’t properly prepared (soaked, sourdough or sprouted), but we still eat it a couple of times a month and I usually buy whole wheat or gluten free rice pasta. Both are good.
You’ll quickly notice that this recipe includes cream. Huh? What? Cream is fattening! Ok, peeps. Let’s just get over the whole “cream and butter make you fat” gig, ok? We’re not talking about gobs of cream here and we’re not eating this everyday all day. Mmmkay? Cream and butter are whole foods. They are natural and delicious, and healthy people have been eating them for thousands of years. This particular cream that I used came straight from a farm where cows are grazing on luscious green Spring grass, so I know it’s chock full of fat soluble vitamins A, D, K. Mmmmm.
For those of you who don’t do dairy or are intolerant, I don’t have any substitutions for this one. You’ll just have to find another recipe entirely. Sorry, friends.
Easy Stovetop Mac and Cheese
2 c. dry macaroni
3 T. butter
1/2 cup cream
1/4 t. sea salt (up to 1/2 t. salt) It will depend on the kind of cheese you use. Start with the smaller amount.
1 1/2 cups cheese (I used regular cheddar cheese. You can experiment with different cheese combinations for different flavors)
Boil macaroni according to package directions. DO NOT FORGET TO SALT THE WATER. While pasta is cooking, in a separate saucepan, melt butter. Add cream and salt and stir until well combined. Heat through for a few minutes until it is hot and bubbly and slightly thickened. It needs to be hot enough to melt the cheese. Take off the burner and add cheese. Stir until cheese is completely melted. Drain pasta and add cheese mixture to hot pasta. Stir and taste test. Add up to 1/4 t. more salt if needed. Add pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
Notes: This will get a little clumpy and separate the longer it sits, so it is best to eat right away while it is still extra creamy. It is not the best dish to take to a potluck. You can make this a complete one dish meal by adding some vegetables like peas, broccoli, tomatoes, or peppers. Chicken or beef may even be good to mix in as well, but I’ve never tried it. I would recommend starting with the original recipe first before you start experimenting though.
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