Macaroni and Cheese

A bowl of mac and cheeseLast night was Ash Wednesday, and I partook of my family’s traditional meatless supper of macaroni and cheese.  Thought I’d share my recipe.  Notice the crazy simple ratio at its heart: for every pound of dry macaroni, make a cheese sauce with a quart of milk and a pound of cheese.

Macaroni and Cheese


  • 1 lb dry macaroni
  • 2 oz unsalted butter
  • 2 oz all-purpose flour
  • 1 qt whole milk
  • 1 lb medium cheddar cheese, grated (Obviously any good melting cheese can be used.  Sylvan Star young gouda and Gruyere work great.)
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • extra cheddar for the gratin


  1. Boil the macaroni in salted water.  Drain the macaroni when it is still underdone, even slightly crunchy at the very centre.  Do not overcook the macaroni, as the macaroni will cook further in the subsequent baking.  Refresh the boiled pasta with cold water.
  2. Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan.  Once the butter is foaming, add the flour, cayenne, and paprika and stir to combine.  Cook the flour for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the milk to the roux while whisking.  Bring to a simmer.
  4. Remove the sauce from the stove.  Add the cheese and stir until melted.
  5. Pour the cheese sauce over the macaroni.  Stir to combine.  Add the salt.  Taste and adjust seasoning as required.
  6. Pour the macaroni into a 9″x15″ casserole.  Sprinkle the top with the extra cheddar.
  7. Bake at 400°F for about 30 minutes.  The cheese sauce must come to simmer and reduce slightly, and the cheese on top must start to brown.  Finish the casserole under the broiler to further brown the cheese, if necessary.
  8. Eat with ketchup and black pepper.

Casserole of macaroni, fresh from the oven