When there are young children accompanying their parents to our house for dinner, I like to have a dish of mac & cheese available to suit their sometimes simpler palate... and the baked kind, though it can be delicious, doesn't hold up to sitting around very well. Plus it takes up space in my oven. In search for a recipe that could be made ahead and then sit on the back of the stove while I prepared the other dishes, and still be creamy and yummy it when it was time to eat, I found this popular version -- Stove Top Mac-n-Cheese, courtesy Alton Brown and the Food Network. It's a good one, but I've tweaked and toned it down just a bit to make it even simpler to make and less intensely flavored -- we're not big mustard fans around here so I took that out entirely.
Once you get the hang of this recipe (and make a habit of keeping these simple ingredients on hand) you'll find it's really not that much more work than the blue box, for a much tastier and healthier result.
Macaroni & Cheese -- Stove Top StyleServes 4-6 as a hearty side dish.
- 1/2 pound elbow macaroni (approx. 2 cups)
- 4 T butter
- 6 oz evaporated milk (this is half of a large can or use a small can which is 5 oz -- should be fine)
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- black pepper, to taste
- 8 oz medium cheddar cheese, shredded (most grocery-store blocks are 8 oz, or use a pre-shredded bag which should also come in 8 oz size)
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the elbow macaroni until al dente. Drain. Return the pasta to the pot. Add the butter and toss to coat.
In a separate bowl or large glass measuring cup, whisk together the evaporated milk, eggs, salt, and black pepper. (You can do this step while the pasta is cooking and have it ready to go when the pasta has been drained & buttered. You can also shred the block of cheese while the pasta is cooking, if you haven't bought the pre-shredded kind.) Stir the egg & milk mixture into the pasta.
Now add the shredded cheese to the pot and turn the heat to low -- stir the (somewhat strange looking at this point) mixture steadily with a wooden spoon and after 3 to 4 minutes it will magically morph into a creamy, sauce-y, yummy pot of mac & cheese! Make sure it's nice and hot, and enjoy immediately, or cover and set on the back of the stove (no heat) until you are ready to serve -- you may need to add a splash of regular milk and stir it a bit over very low heat before serving but I have had this sitting for up to an hour and it's been just fine!