I sure appreciate the love and support that all of you have given to us at Sweet Tea Traditions! The girls and I are having a blast and really love that we get to share our lives with you.
So far, macaroni and cheese, chicken and dumplings, and our chicken and rice have been our most requested and pinned recipes. Chicken and dumplings as well as chicken and rice have their own post, but I just added mac & cheese one day as a featured recipe on our weekly menu page.
We have had such a response to this, that Jennie told me that I should do a post just for macaroni and cheese so we could make sure to include all of the details.
I know that we all like to create gourmet dishes from time to time, but I always feel that there is a great desire for us to recreate some of the things that we grew up with. I mean, what would I give to sit at my Mama Ki or my Mammaw’s table just one more time!!!
That’s why I love just making good ole Southern comfort food like our grandmothers made! Macaroni and Cheese is the summation of all Southern, homecooked food!
After I married and started having a family, I would love to go back home and have big family dinners. Usually they were at Holiday time, and anytime we had a family dinner and would talk about the menu, my Mammaw would look at me and say, “Sugar, we are having macaroni and cheese, right?” And, yes, we always did!
Mac & Cheese is an easy dish to prepare whether you are eating at home or taking a dish to a friend’s house or for potluck! The ingredients are simple and can be altered according to your individual taste, but after making mac & cheese probably hundreds of times, this is the way I like mine!
I love the combination of shredded Velveeta for the inside and cheddar jack for the top! Cheese, macaroni, a little butter, salt, pepper, and a little milk with an egg is all you need to make this cheesy Southern staple!
There are some important things to the success of your mac & cheese. First, you need a good amount of water and it needs to be at a rolling boil before putting your macaroni in. Also, don’t forget to salt your water first! I also like to add just a bit of olive oil. I think it helps to keep the macaroni from clumping together.
Store-brand macaroni works fine for me, I just try to make sure that it is not over cooked. I can usually tell by looking, but always do a taste test just to make sure! 10 minutes is about right.
After the macaroni is done, it needs to be drained, with just a quick rinse to get rid of some of the starch that comes out of the pasta. Make sure you pour the macaroni away from you in order to prevent getting a steam burn! After I rinse and drain, I prop my colander up in the same boiler just to make sure I get all of the liquid out that I can.
Next, you need to pick out a dish. I like this one, but have used a variety of dishes over the years! I’ve used a 13×9, I’ve used foil baking pans, round pans, just about any pan you can imagine, but I really like this 2 1/2 quart dish and think that it is the perfect size.
Now, comes the layering. I end up with 3 layers. Start by spraying your dish with Pam, and then putting 1/3 of the pasta in the dish. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper and then dot with some of the butter. Next, add one of the packs of shredded Velveeta. If you think it’s too cheesy, you can cut down on the Velveeta a bit. My family never thinks there is too much cheese!
Then, you are going to repeat that process one more time. After the second layer is complete, add the last third of pasta and then just add your cheddar jack or just plain cheddar on top.
The combination of milk and egg is what really holds all of this together. I start by pouring 1/2 – 3/4 of a cup of milk in a glass measuring cup and then add my egg. It’s really important to make sure that the milk and egg are completely mixed together. Take a fork and just whip it to death! I promise you that you don’t want scrambled eggs in your macaroni!
That’s it! It’s ready to go in a hot oven that has been heated to 350 degrees. 30-35 minutes is all you need to finish up. Don’t cover your mac & cheese while cooking it. Without a cover, you get this nice little bit of crunchy topping. To me, this is the best part!
Is there anything better than this! I don’t think chocolate can even top it!
Sometime, you might want to make it a little ahead of time. For Sunday dinner, I prepare it up until adding the milk and egg. I just leave it on the counter and after church beat my milk and egg and pour it on and put it right in the oven. The only thing I do differently is run my pasta under cold water until it has completely cooled down. Otherwise, the cheese melts and I don’t think it cooks quite as well. I hope this becomes as much a part of your family as it has ours!