So, I grew up learning to make things from scratch because it was better for you and tastes better. My family loves Stouffer’s macaroni and cheese that you can find in the freezer section of almost any grocery store. I admit it’s good, but I never understood why they were so obsessed with it.
One day my sister in law told me that it was because it was so thick and creamy. There was just something different about it than boxed macaroni and cheese that uses either dried powder packs or processed, fake cheese. I asked her if she knew what kind of cheese they used in the Stouffer’s brand and she did not.
Just in case you’re a kitchen nerd like me and actually want to know, here are the ingredients list for the cheese sauce from the Stouffer’s website:
Sauce: Skim Milk, Water, Cheddar Cheese (Cultured Milk, Salt, Enzymes, Annatto Color), Cheddar Club Cheese (Cheddar Cheese [Cultured Milk, Salt, Enzymes], Water, Salt, Annatto Color), Wheat Flour, Soybean Oil, Butter (Cream, Salt), Salt. Cooked Pasta: Water, Semolina Wheat Flour, Wheat Gluten.
Please be sure to check the actual product label since the information contained here may have changed.
Anyways, I decided to try to get as close as possible to the Stouffer’s recipe in my own kitchen with my own ingredients. My sister in law is a very tough food critic, so I knew she wouldn’t have any problem telling me the truth. Well, she loved it and said it was the first mac and cheese recipe that she had tasted that was so much like Stouffer’s mac and cheese. Now, we serve it regularly at my home.
Here’s the recipe:
1/2 pound of shell pasta, uncooked
2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese or any cheese combination you like. (In these particular photos, I used Fiesta Blend cheese because I had so much stocked up.)
1 stick of salted butter (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup flour
3 cups whole milk (or whichever you choose)
1/2 tsp mustard powder
Salt and pepper to taste
First thing, pour your dried pasta shells into a stock pot. Place enough water in the pot to come about a few inches over the noodles. Cook until noodles are done. Strain and set aside.
Next, warm a sauce pan over medium heat. Cut the stick of butter up into slices and place them in the pan. Once they melt completely, add in the flour and whisk it until it’s well mixed. Don’t let this burn, but whisk until it turns from white to slightly browned just a bit.
Add in the milk and continue stirring. Add your mustard, salt, and pepper. Next, add in your cheese. Allow this sauce to simmer lightly just until it thickens, stirring as needed. Once it’s thickened pull it off of the burner and pour it over your pasta. Mix well and allow it to cool before serving.
Remember: Depending on what types of cheeses you decide to use, your mac and cheese may be lighter in color or darker. Mine came out just lightly yellowed, more like a cream color because I used a lot of white cheese in the fiesta blend. Experiment and find what you like! My favorite is sharp cheddar.