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Southern-style baked macaroni and cheese is probably my favorite side dish. I have always loved it. I also love the various mac and cheese preparations with lobster, breadcrumbs, and more. I have been to several catered events with a mac and cheese bar and I absolutely love this idea. This is a holiday recipe favorite, so it is loaded with tons of cheese and other goodness. Thus, this dish deviates from the typical guilt-free Stay Snatched recipes. Be sure to check out my Mac and Cheese Bites recipe for a lightened-up, guilt-free version of this dish.
If you are a fan of mac and cheese, you will probably love my Bacon Gouda Mac and Cheese recipe as well.
This recipe was prepared for Christmas dinner with my family. I typically use 4-5 different types of cheese. I often use gouda and go back and forth between using gouda and pecorino romano, for no particular reason. I love gouda. I love pretty much any cheese. Feel free to use your favorite types of cheese. Parmigiano Reggiano is my favorite cheese to use while cooking. I have used it often in other recipes such Shrimp Scampi Dip, Shrimp Scampi with Zucchini Noodles, and Warm Spinach Dip with Parmesan. It adds an amazing bold flavor to the dish.
There are so many ways to prepare traditional, homestyle, baked, soul food mac and cheese (however you want to describe baked mac and cheese). I am not a fan of mac and cheese that is watery and has too much liquid. I do not like mac and cheese that is dry and does not have a cheesy texture. My preferred dish has a crunchy crust on top, with cheesy goodness within.
Grate all of the cheese. This is actually my favorite step! Cut the muenster into small chunks. I do this because it does not grate as easy.
First, melt the butter in the saucepan. Add the flour and whisk to create a slurry. After the flour has been fully mixed, add half of all of the cheeses. Stir until the cheese has melted.
Layer, layer, layer! Layers are the key here. In order to get a great burst of cheese in every bite, you will add the macaroni, and then shredded cheese. This is similar to preparing a lasagna.
I usually prepare this dish for very large groups of family and around the holidays. I decided to test if my recipe could be divided in half to serve a smaller group and still hold up. It does! The photos below show the results of using 1/2 of the ingredients noted below. I still followed the exact same steps.
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Southern-Style Soul Food Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Southern-Style Soul Food Baked Macaroni and Cheese is a homemade, recipe with 5 creamy types of cheese. Perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and holidays.
- 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese shredded
- 1 cup parmigiano reggiano shredded
- 1 cup fontina cheese shredded
- 1 cup pecorino romano cheese shredded
- 1/2 cup muenster cheese cut into small chunks
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 3 cups of milk
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 4 tablespoons butter
- salt pepper, and onion powder to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Boil a large pot with salted water over high heat.
Add the macaroni and cook for about 5 minutes.
Drain the macaroni and rinse with cold water. Reserve some of the water from the pasta in case you need it later. This is important. You want the pasta to cool so that it does not continue to cook. The pasta will cook again while baking in the oven. Over-cooked pasta results in a terrible texture.
Heat a sauce pan on medium heat. Add the butter and allow it to melt.
Once melted, add the flour and whisk.
This will create a slurry. Continue to whisk until the four is fully combined.
Add the milk and heavy whipping cream and stir.
Add half of the cheese and stir until the cheese is melted.
Add the seasonings and taste repeatedly. This step is important because you don't want bland mac and cheese.
Return the pasta to the large pot. Drizzle the liquid mixture over the pasta and stir until fully combined.
Spray a baking pan with cooking spray.
Begin to layer in the pasta. Start with the pasta, then add a layer of all of the shredded cheese and muenster chunks.
Add another layer of pasta, and then another layer of cheese.
Ensure there is adequate liquid throughout these steps (additional milk or reserved pasta water work well). This can be tricky. You do not want the dish to appear like soup, but you do not want it to be dry.
This step is important because without adequate liquid the dish will dry out while baking.
Bake for 20-30 minutes until the cheese has melted and is bubbly
Cool before serving.