For years, I have struggled with homemade mac and cheese. It just doesn’t work when I make it. It turns out grainy and clumpy and just plain gross. Creamy is definitely more my style. I’ve always thought my failures were because I was using “real” cheese instead of processed Velveeta. Until I tried this recipe, that is. This skillet mac and cheese fits the creamy bill perfectly. Creamy, flavorful and pretty healthy as far as mac and cheese goes – no heavy cream, just a perfectly working combination of evaporated milk, cornstarch and “real” cheese. Oh, and talk about easy – completely made in ONE skillet and definitely done in 20 minutes, start to finish. I often use the ham and pea variation (below the recipe) to make it more of a complete meal for my family. The only word of warning is to eat it while it is warm – cold mac and cheese is pretty grody, if you ask me.
My oldest son, Jackson, has declared cooking his favorite hobby (love that boy and his buzzcut!) and made this nearly start to finish with a few helps with the hot stovetop. He was so proud! Upon which I declared he will be making this mac and cheese at least weekly for dinner while I sit eating bonbons on the couch. We love this one!
- 3 1/2 cups water, plus extra if needed
- 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
- 12 ounces (about 3 cups) elbow macaroni
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
- 6 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)
- 6 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)
- 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small chunks
- Ground black pepper to taste
- Bring 3 1/2 cups water, 1 cup of the evaporated milk, the macaroni, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a simmer in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat. Cook at a vigorous simmer, stirring often, until the macaroni is tender and the liquid has thickened, 9 to 12 minutes.
- Whisk the remaining 1/2 cup evaporated milk, the cornstarch, mustard and hot sauce together in a small bowl, then stir into the skillet. Continue to simmer slightly thickened, about 1 minute.
- Off the heat, stir in the cheddar and Monterey Jack, one handful at a time, adding water as needed to adjust the consistency of the sauce (I didn’t need any additional water when I made it). Stir in the butter and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
Ham and Pea Variation: Follow the recipe, adding 4 ounces deli-style baked ham, diced medium, and 1/2 cup frozen peas to the skillet with the cornstarch mixture in step 2.
Recipe Source: adapted from The Best Skillet Recipes