Creamy stovetop macaroni and cheese

Two winning recipes – from Cooks Illustrated and Alton Brown are nearly identical except for the amount of evaporated milk. Cooks Illustrated uses more to make an abundantly creamy cheese sauce; Alton Brown uses less milk for a drier texture.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk (Alton Brown uses half a can, or 3/4 cup)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon dry mustard, dissolved in 1 teaspoon water (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce or pinch of cayenne (optional)
  • 12 ounces cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, or a combination, grated (about 3 cups)

Directions

  1. In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente and drain. Return macaroni to pan and add butter; toss to melt.
  2. In a bowl, mix together milk, eggs salt, pepper, mustard mixture and pepper sauce/cayenne.
  3. Pour egg mixture over macaroni and heat on low, stirring. When hot, add cheese and turn off heat. Stir until cheese melts. Sauce will seem very soupy but thickens as it cools.

Serves 4-6.

Notes

  • If you like crunch, top with toasted bread crumbs or crumbled crackers. To make toasted breadcrumbs: Mix 1 cup fresh or Panko breadcrumbs and 1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter (add a pinch of salt if using unsalted butter). Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes and sprinkle on top before serving the macaroni.
  • A single batch fits in an 8″x8″ baking dish; a double batch fits in a 9″x13″.
  • Cheese gets grainy when heated too much. To maintain creaminess, reheat very gently – low heat on stovetop, low oven, half power in microwave – adding a little milk if needed. The macaroni will still taste good heated quickly, but it won’t be as creamy.

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