Macaroni and cheese is one of those satisfying staples that pleases 8-year-olds as well as full-grown adults. Cheesy, creamy, and deeply nostalgic, this dish is so good when it's done right and so disappointing when done wrong.
You could spend hours sifting through the hundreds of recipes available on the internet and working your way through them one by one. Or you could just trust us when we tell you that the Pioneer Woman has this recipe down to a science and that you definitely want to steal it.
Her recipe is authentic comfort food in every way it should be, and even Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman herself, will admit that she created her recipe to satisfy her own craving for the macaroni and cheese of her childhood memories. She even claims that "I wouldn't have grown as a child if macaroni and cheese didn't exist."
The Pioneer Woman's Macaroni and Cheese
We all know that butter makes everything better, and so the entire recipe appropriately begins with you heartily buttering a baking dish.
Next, you'll make a roux. To make a roux, you'll place a chunk of butter into a pot to melt. Once it's melted you'll add a sprinkle of flour and let that cook for a couple of minutes until it begins to darken. Then, you'll add milk and wait until the sauce begins bubbling. When it does, let the thick, white sauce continue to cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
Next, according to Ree, you'll add a sprinkle of dried mustard to give the macaroni and cheese a little "Je ne sais quoi."Then you'll add a dash of salt and a dusting of pepper."
The optional Step: add a beaten egg.
Now, you can choose to take the optional step of adding an egg to give an extra comforting thickness to the sauce.
But be careful! Make sure to temper the egg by slowly beating in a ladle-full of roux into the bowl with the egg before adding it to the pot of bubbling sauce. If you add the egg raw, you could end up with an interesting texture to your mac and cheese.
Next, add grated cheese.
Pro tip from the Pioneer Woman: Grate the cheese yourself. The pre-grated option from the store is coated in a cornstarch-like substance which can give your macaroni and cheese a grainy texture.
When the cheese is melted, you can add your seasonings. Ree recommends a blend of cayenne, paprika, and thyme. However, there is no limit on what you can shake into the sauce.
Now it's time to add your hot, drained macaroni to your prepared sauce. Make sure to mix it up until every noodle is thoroughly coated. Only then can you transfer it to your buttered baking pan.
Right before you pop it into a 350-degree oven, top it with grated cheese. Or with breadcrumbs. Or don't top it at all. The choice is yours.
Once you're ready to stick it into the oven you'll begin that grueling wait while the macaroni and cheese bubbles away lazily in the oven. Usually, this will take 15 to 20 minutes.
And that's it! Your macaroni and cheese is served. For more details, get the full recipe from the Pioneer Woman here.
You can also check out the full video tutorial below:
Now how delicious is that? Whether you're whipping this up as a side dish or a main dish, everyone at the dinner table will seriously love this.