Would you just look at that creamy goodness! How can you even resist? I couldn’t. My mouth waters just remembering those creamy, cheese-covered noodles my taste buds experienced when I had this on Sunday for lunch.
You know when I said a couple weeks ago I would probably start craving macaroni and cheese after talking about all my childhood favorite “recipes” (I don’t know if you can consider the Blue Box a recipe)? Well, it happened. Philip and I enjoy watching episodes of America’s Test Kitchen and soon after writing that post, they had a segment on macaroni and cheese. I took it as a sign and put macaroni and cheese on my menu planner app. It actually was supposed to be made later this week, but I couldn’t wait and it jumped to Sunday for a lunch meal. Because Philip and I usually don’t get home from church until after noon, this is definitely saying something—1) It is a breeze to make. 2) I really wanted it if I was willing to do anything but heat up leftovers or make a sandwich. We were eating by 12:30 with only one bowl and one pan dirty. Not bad clean up for Philip either! (I do the majority of the cooking, he does the dishes—it works well for us).
So what makes this macaroni and cheese so creamy? Nope, it’s not any of those crazy ingredients you see on the Kraft Blue Box…it’s evaporated milk!
I’m always disappointed when I try to make homemade macaroni and cheese because it’s always grainy. I’ve tried different cheeses and different recipes in the past to no avail. Finally America’s Test Kitchen came to the rescue (they always do)! I realized my grainy mac & cheese has been due to my fresh milk slightly curdling when heated. That’s where the evaporated milk comes in. Because of the evaporation and sterilization process of making the milk, it doesn’t curdle during cooking. The result? Silky smooth macaroni and cheese that meets my picky, 6-year-old-Kara standards without the crazy ingredients and preservatives my 20-years-older-health-conscious self tries to stay away from.
Macaroni and cheese, no matter whether it’s homemade or not, is never going to be the healthiest option. But, I lightened it up a little bit by using fat-free evaporated milk and cutting back slightly on the cheese and butter. But don’t worry, it was still plenty cheesy! I would highly recommend buying a block of cheese and grating it yourself. It will melt more easily since pre-shredded cheeses contain anti-caking agents. Plus, the block cheese just has a better taste, in my opinion. It hardly adds any time to the prep at all. I used sharp cheddar cheese, but I think any kind of cheddar cheese (or mix of cheeses) would be excellent.
While the noodles are cooking, assemble the egg mixture and grate the cheese. Once the noodles are drained and back in the pot, stir in the butter until melted.
Once the butter is melted, stir in the egg mixture and some of the cheddar cheese. Keep adding in the cheese and the remaining evaporated milk as the cheese melts into the macaroni.
The outcome is a creamy, dreamy, cheesy mixture. The sauce will continue to thicken, but don’t worry about waiting for that to happen—I just dug right in.
This dish successfully brought me back to my childhood, but with a certain level of grown-up sophistication. I consider this macaroni and cheese kid- and adult-approved—perfect for a quick, weeknight meal for the whole family.
Creamy Stovetop Mac & Cheese
Slightly adapted from America’s Test Kitchen
- 2 cups macaroni
- 2 large eggs
- 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk (I used about 10 ounces of the milk)
- 1 tsp dry mustard dissolved in 1 tsp water
- 1/4 tsp Tabasco sauce
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
- Bring 2 quarts water to a boil in a large pot for the macaroni. Cook the macaroni until almost tender, but still slightly firm.
- While the noodles are cooking, mix together the eggs, half of evaporated milk, the mustard mixture, Tabasco sauce, and pepper.
- Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Reduce the heat to low. Stir in the butter and allow it to melt.
- Stir in the egg mixture and half of the cheddar cheese. Continue to cook over low heat, gradually stirring in the remaining milk and cheddar cheese, until the mixture is hot and creamy, about 5 minutes.
- Season with more pepper, to taste.