Grandma’s Macaroni and Cheese

"Like Grandma Made" — according to database research firm Innova Market Insights, those are the right words, right up there with "home made" and "homestyle," that appeal these days when it comes to food.

Grandma food conjures up memories of old fashioned comfort and Grandma indulgences. Our favorite dishes plus big hugs.

I know my own grandma was a world class cook. No one made Kraft dinner as good as she did. She didn’t mix the orange cheese powder with milk like you’re supposed to. She just sprinkled it over the buttered macaroni, where it only partially melted, so you could actually feel the cheese particles on your teeth, a pleasantly gritty contrast to the soft noodles and rich, oozing butter.

It’s the way I made Kraft Dinner for my own kids.

But I have to say, for my grandchildren I make Macaroni and Cheese from scratch, so what I give them isn’t like what my grandma made, but maybe someday they will cook it and be able to say that my recipe is just like grandma made. Here it is:

Grandma’s Macaroni and Cheese

  • 1-1/2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk, preferably whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • freshly grated black pepper to taste
  • pinch freshly grated nutmeg, optional
  • 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese or mix of cheddar and American cheeses

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook the elbows in lightly salted boiling water until it is al dente — almost done, but still firm. Drain and set aside. While the macaroni is cooking, heat the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and looks foamy, add the flour, turn the heat to low and whisk the ingredients to combine them smoothly. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Gradually add the milk and stir constantly for 3-4 minutes or until a smooth, thick sauce has formed. Stir in salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add 2 cups of the cheese and continue to cook, stirring with a wooden spoon (so you can get into the corners of the pan) until the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth. Pour the sauce over the cooked elbows and toss to coat the macaroni with the sauce. Place the macaroni in a baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the cheese on top is melted and bubbly.

Makes 4 servings

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