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Southern Baked Mac and Cheese
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Southern Baked Mac and Cheese

Southern Baked Mac and Cheese – super creamy, cheesy, soulful baked mac and cheese filled with great Southern flavors topped with crispy bread crumb. You will never break open a box again!
Course Side
Cuisine Southern
Keyword mac and cheese
Prep Time 58 minutes
Total Time 58 minutes
Servings 8 -10
Calories 492kcal
Author Imma

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 12oz canned evaporated milk
  • 1 cup half and half ( 1/2 cup cream and 1/2 cup milk)
  • ½ -1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • ½ -1 teaspoon creole seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup mozzarella cheese , grated
  • ½ cup sharp cheddar cheese
 , grated
  • ½ cup jack cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 ounce uncooked Macaroni

Instructions

  • Cook macaroni according to the package directions. Drain.
  • Add butter to skillet, as soon as butter melts whisk in flour. Continue whisking until flour is fully mixed with butter. Then cook for about a minute to get rid of the flour taste.
  • Slowly add evaporated milk a little at the time, followed by the half and half ; you do not want the mixture to form any lumps. Simmer for about 3-5 minutes until mixture thickens slightly.
  • Add seasonings, onion and garlic powder, creole seasoning and cayenne pepper.
  • Bring to a simmer and let it simmer gently for about 2 minutes.
  • Stir in the cheeses (reserve some as toppings later), and continue stirring until everything’s melted and evenly combined and, smooth. Salt & pepper, to taste.
  • Then add the cooked  pasta to the pot, stir to evenly incorporate.
  • Transfer the pasta mixture into a the pan or into a lightly greased 2-qt. baking dish; top with remaining cheese.
  • Bake at 375 Degrees F° for 20 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

Notes

Bread crumb topping (optional)
  • Place a small skillet on medium heat with 2 tablespoons butter, then toss in 1 teaspoon minced garlic, stir for about 30 seconds and throw in bread crumbs. Saute for about 3-4 minutes or until fragrant. Lightly season with salt and pepper, if desired. Then top the mac and cheese with the bread crumbs and bake.
 
If using an egg (optional)
  • In a medium bowl, beat egg then add about 1/2  cup of the  sauce to the egg, return the egg mixture to the sauce, stirring to blend well. Proceed with the cheese and the proceeding steps.
 
Cheeses and Cheese Sauce
  • Don't use pre-shredded bagged cheese as it is drier. You have to get blocks of it and shred it yourself.
  • Sharp cheddar cheese, mozzarella and jack cheese are my top fave. Or you can also use pepper jack cheese, gouda, fontina and Gruyere.
  • More  mozzarella cheese can be added for it gives it a nice gooey pull in every bite.
  • Do not cook cheese sauce too long.
 
Add-ins
  • You can also throw in special ingredients such as garlic herbs, dried mustard, crispy fried onion strings and so on.
  • For extra flavor, add  chicken breast pieces, spinach, and red bell peppers.
 
Milk
  • In case you want to cut down on the calories, use low fat milk instead of evaporated milk and cut back on half of the cheese.
  • It’s best to warm milk. Cold liquid interrupts the cooking process. Heated milk also has a richer flavor than cold milk.
  • To avoid lumps, try adding the milk about 2-3 tablespoons at a time. Whisk until it’s incorporated before adding more. Once the can of evaporated milk is all mixed in, add in all the half and half at once.
 
Make Ahead Instructions
  • Mac and Cheese can be made ahead up to the point of baking, then bake about 30-40 minutes before serving, so it’s hot and fresh.  It can as well be made right in the morning and bake just before dinner time.
  • It can also be  made ahead and frozen, but  the sauce has to be kept separate from the pasta. Mix together the sauce and pasta the day you want to bake. 
  • Reheat in the microwave if there are any leftover then spray the top with oil or butter for moisture.
 
More Baking Notes
  • Stick to the right pasta.
  •  You don't cover baked mac and cheese with foil as it would steam the inside and prevent it from achieving that  slightly crusty golden bubbly top.
  • If making for bigger groups of people, let’s say 15 servings, triple the ingredients listed.
  • In the absence of cast iron, Mac and Cheese can be baked in an oven safe pan and aluminum baking pans is also a good substitute.
 
Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on products used.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 492kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 268mg | Potassium: 219mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 765IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 324mg | Iron: 1.3mg