Homemade Stovetop Mac and Cheese
1 1lb box of pasta (I use a fiber pasta like Barilla white fiber or Ronzoni Smart Taste)
1/2 8 oz brick of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 8 oz brick of Colby Jack or Monterrey Jack or Jalapeno Jack (dependent on your spice level), shredded
2 cups of milk (I have used skim and lactose free, but it is your preference)
pinch ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 8 oz ham steak, cut into cubes (optional)
3tbl butter or marg
2 heaping tbls of flour (apx 3 tbls for perfectionists :) )
1. In a small frying pan, cook ham steak cubes with onion powder and garlic powder on low-medium. Set aside.
2. Boil water in large pot in accordance to box directions. Once the water is boiling, add pasta and stir in a teaspoon of salt. Once pasta is al dente, drain, and set aside.
3. In same pot, melt butter and heat roux mixture over medium-low heat with a whisk. Once completely mixed, add a dash of pepper and allow to "cook out" the flour for one minute, stirring.
4. Remove pot from direct heat. Add 1/2 cup of milk and whisk swiftly to ensure there are no lumps. Continue adding additional milk and return to the heat, medium-high. Whisk continuously until it thickens. It should just bubble, but not boil. The bechemel or white cream sauce should reduce and thicken.
5. Once the sauce is thickened (use a spoon, it will coat and not drip off like milk, run your finger down and it will show a straight line). Add more pepper to your liking, add nutmeg and a dash of salt. Be sure to moderate the salt due to the fact that all the ingredients added include salt.
6. Remove from heat and slowly add cheese, using the whisk 1/4 at a time until all cheese is incorporated.
7. Using a spoon, add ham, and then add cooked pasta, slowly as well. You may not need all of the pasta, dependent upon the shape it may hold more of the cheese.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Better make extra, you will want it late at night.