Like many people I have a never ending love affair going on with mac n cheese. The real mac n cheese, you make at home or order in a restaurant. Oddly enough I do not make it very often for my family. I tried when my kids were little, but they never caught on yet they loved noodles. Then one day a couple years ago I made it while camping (I plan ahead) in a Cast Iron pan. My kids and non pasta loving husband had an AHA moment and fell in love with Cast Iron Mac n Cheese. Ever since it goes into camping food rotation as it’s requested whenever we camp.
Cast Iron Mac n Cheese was one of those recipes I made and had to work on getting the method right. It curdled a few times but I never gave up because well cheese. And noodles. I’ve learned through trial and error whole milk works best. Using an expensive old cheddar and cold milk right out of the fridge may have caused the curdling. Now I let my milk warm up a bit before using and I opt for a medium good cheddar with a smoked cheese to enhance the flavour.
This isn’t your mommas mac n cheese and you won’t lose any weight eating it, so you might as well pour a glass of wine or a beer and enjoy!
- ½ cup bread crumbs, toasted
- 450-500 gram box macaroni
- 3-4 tbsp butter
- 3-4 tbsp flour
- 3 cups whole homogenized milk
- ½ tsp old bay spice
- 2 cups medium cheddar, shredded
- 1.5 cups smoked gouda cheese, shredded
- butter to grease pan
- salt and pepper
- Take your milk out of the fridge and let sit at room temperature.
- Cook your pasta one minute less than what it says on the box. Strain, put back in pot, add a little butter, mix and set aside to cool.
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once it’s melted, add your flour to the butter and start whisking. Let the flour cook out for at least 3 minutes.
- Slowly whisk in one cup of milk. Once thickened add in the remaining 2 cups. Keep your heat down as you do not want it to boil. Once thickened slowly add in spoonful's of the cheese, combined is fine, stirring (not whisking) after each addition until all the cheese is melted in. Stir in a pinch of salt, pepper and the old bay seasoning. Turn the heat off.
- Using your fingers (like our mother's before us) take some butter and rub it all over the bottom and insides of the cast iron pan.
- Next add your cooked macaroni.
- Pour in your cheese sauce and stir to combine.
- Top with bread crumbs. I grated a little extra gouda and sprinkled it on top.
- Cover with tin foil and place right on campfire grate or bbq over low flame or indirect heat.
- Let cook for 20-30 minutes until bubbling. It should form a nice brown (not burnt) crust on the bottom. Everyone fights over these bits.