I’ve been sitting here for a solid twenty minutes trying to think of some witty, insightful introduction for this recipe, but there isn’t one. This recipe is a simple and wonderful as a rain shower (please, Mother Nature, we can haz?), as homey and comfortable as an old pair of perfectly worn-in sweatpants, and as delicious as any product of a grandmother’s kitchen should be. I grew up eating it, and it’s probably one of the reasons I grew out as well.
I feel it’s only fair to warn you that there is absolutely nothing healthy about this recipe. What it amounts to is about six servings’ worth of pasta, draped in fourteen ounces of melted cheese and a half stick of butter, give or take.
You’ve been warned.
Grandma Elsie’s Baked Mac & Cheese
Preheat the oven to 375 and generously butter a round casserole dish. Don’t skimp, kiddies; anything worth doing is worth doing right.
You’re gonna need some stuff: 2 cups of uncooked elbow mac; 6 ounces of Velveeta; 4 ounces each of sharp cheddar and colby; half a stick of real butter (I’m serious, put that pansy-ass fake stuff away), and a can of Milnot. No, you don’t have to use the Milnot brand, but Grandma always did and I’m not cheeky enough to mess with perfection.
Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and cook the mac by the package directions, but shave a minute or two off the cook time. We’re gonna bake it later. While your pasta is doing it’s thing, drag out your food processor and grate the sharp cheddar and colby. Yes, you’ll want to grate your own. The pre-shredded stuff is coated in things like corn starch and failure and it will only cause you heartache. And yes, you could use a box grater, but you don’t know where yours has disappeared to, and if the Lord in all His infinite wisdom had wanted you to use a box grater, why on earth would He have made food processors? Once you’ve done that bit, hack six ounces off that block of processed cheese product and cube it up.
Once the mac is done, drain it, but don’t rinse. I dump the pasta back into the hot pot; this way, any residual moisture will cook off. Toss the mac with the cheeses. I was feeling frisky, so I added a couple good dashes of paprika. I think you probably should, too. Dump everything into the buttered casserole dish.
Crack open that can of evaporated milk and pour it over the whole mess. Now for the butter, cube it up and sprinkle it evenly over the top. If you’re feeling super frisky, break out the Panko. Just a few handfuls over the top of the mac can be a wonderful thing. The butter will melt over it and get all brown and crispy and lovely. This stuff could bring about world peace if used properly.
Once you’re done drooling, scoot the casserole into the oven and do something else for about an hour. It won’t be easy; the smell coming from your kitchen will drive you wild, but there’s precious little you can do until time is up. When the joyous moment arrives, pull the golden-topped casserole from the oven and take a few minutes to bask in it’s warm glow. Go on. I’ll wait.
Hard as it will be, it’s better to let it cool for a few minutes. I can’t count the number of mac-and-cheese-related injuries I’ve endured in my short life. Well, I can, but it’s embarrassing.
Wanna know a secret? The best bit is the burned stuff around the edges…
If you can beat me to it.