If you’re craving a comforting and indulgent dish, look no further than Southern-style baked macaroni and cheese. This classic recipe combines the perfect blend of rich cheeses, creamy sauce, and crispy breadcrumb topping. By following a few simple steps, you can create a mouthwatering dish that will have your taste buds dancing with joy. Get ready for a cheesy, gooey, and delicious adventure in your kitchen!

Ingredients

To make Southern-style baked macaroni and cheese, you will need the following ingredients:

Elbow macaroni

Elbow macaroni is the traditional pasta shape used for macaroni and cheese. It is small and curved, allowing it to hold onto the cheesy sauce.

Butter

Butter adds richness and flavor to the cheese sauce. It helps create a creamy and velvety texture in the final dish.

All-purpose flour

Flour acts as a thickening agent for the cheese sauce. It helps to create a smooth and consistent texture, preventing the sauce from becoming runny.

Milk

Milk is the base for the cheese sauce. It adds creaminess and richness to the dish. Whole milk is typically used for a richer flavor, but you can also use low-fat milk if desired.

Sharp cheddar cheese

Sharp cheddar cheese is a staple for Southern-style macaroni and cheese. It has a strong and tangy flavor that pairs well with the other ingredients. It also melts beautifully, creating a smooth and cheesy sauce.

Monterey Jack cheese

Monterey Jack cheese is a mild and creamy cheese that adds a smooth and melty texture to the dish. It helps balance out the sharpness of the cheddar cheese and adds a subtle flavor.

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Colby cheese

Colby cheese is a mild and semi-soft cheese with a slightly sweet taste. It melts well and adds creaminess to the macaroni and cheese.

Eggs

Eggs are used to bind the ingredients together and contribute to the overall texture of the dish. They add richness and help the macaroni and cheese set up during baking.

Salt

Salt is a crucial seasoning that enhances the flavors in the dish. It helps balance the richness of the cheese and complements the pasta.

Black pepper

Black pepper adds a hint of heat and spice to the macaroni and cheese. It gives the dish a little kick and adds depth of flavor.

Paprika

Paprika adds a pop of color and a subtle smoky flavor to the dish. It enhances the visual appeal of the baked macaroni and cheese.

Cooking Equipment

To prepare Southern-style baked macaroni and cheese, you will need the following cooking equipment:

Large pot

A large pot is needed to boil the water and cook the macaroni. It should be big enough to hold the pasta and water without overflowing.

Colander

A colander is essential for draining the cooked macaroni after it is done. It allows the excess water to drain away, leaving behind the perfectly cooked pasta.

Medium saucepan

A medium saucepan is used to make the cheese sauce. It should be big enough to hold all the ingredients and allow room for whisking.

Whisk

A whisk is necessary for creating a smooth and lump-free cheese sauce. It helps incorporate the ingredients evenly and ensures a creamy texture.

Baking dish

A baking dish is where the macaroni and cheese will be baked in the oven. It should be deep enough to hold the pasta, cheese, and sauce without overflowing.

Mixing bowl

A mixing bowl is used to combine the beaten eggs with the macaroni mixture. It should be large enough to accommodate all the ingredients and allow for thorough mixing.

Cooking Instructions

Now that you have gathered all the ingredients and cooking equipment, it’s time to start making your Southern-style baked macaroni and cheese! Here is a step-by-step guide:

Cooking the Macaroni

  1. Begin by boiling water in a large pot. Make sure there is enough water to fully submerge the macaroni.

  2. Add salt to the boiling water. This will help season the pasta as it cooks and enhance its flavor.

  3. Cook the macaroni according to the package instructions. This usually involves boiling it for a specific amount of time until it is al dente, or tender yet still slightly firm.

  4. Once the macaroni is cooked, drain it using a colander. Shake off any excess water and set aside.

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Making the Cheese Sauce

  1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Allow it to fully melt and become liquid.

  2. Add flour to the melted butter and whisk until smooth. This creates a roux, which will help thicken the cheese sauce.

  3. Gradually pour milk into the saucepan while whisking constantly. This prevents any lumps from forming and ensures a smooth sauce.

  4. Continue whisking the mixture until it thickens. This can take a few minutes, so be patient and keep stirring.

  5. Once the sauce has thickened, add the shredded cheddar, Monterey Jack, and Colby cheese. Stir until the cheese melts and the sauce becomes smooth.

  6. Season the cheese sauce with salt, black pepper, and paprika to taste. Adjust the seasonings according to your preferences.

Mixing the Cooked Macaroni and Cheese Sauce

  1. Preheat your oven to a specific temperature. This can vary depending on the recipe you are using.

  2. Transfer the cooked macaroni to a baking dish. Make sure the dish is large enough to hold all the macaroni and sauce.

  3. Pour the cheese sauce over the macaroni. Use a spatula or spoon to evenly distribute the sauce over the pasta.

  4. Gently mix the macaroni and cheese sauce together. The goal is to coat every strand of pasta with the creamy sauce.

  5. Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl and beat them lightly. This helps break up the yolks and ensures they are well incorporated into the dish.

  6. Add the beaten eggs to the macaroni mixture and stir well. This adds richness and helps bind the ingredients together.

Baking the Macaroni and Cheese

  1. Place the baking dish in the preheated oven. Make sure it is centered in the oven for even cooking.

  2. Bake the macaroni and cheese for a specific amount of time, or until it is golden and bubbly on top. The baking time can vary depending on the recipe, but it typically takes around 25-30 minutes.

  3. Once the macaroni and cheese is done baking, remove it from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes. This allows the dish to set and firm up slightly.

  4. Serve the Southern-style baked macaroni and cheese while it is still hot. Cut it into individual portions and enjoy the creamy and cheesy goodness!

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Variations and Additions

While Southern-style baked macaroni and cheese is delicious on its own, you can also try different variations and additions to add unique flavors and textures to the dish. Here are a few ideas:

Bacon Mac and Cheese

For bacon lovers, try adding cooked and crumbled bacon to your macaroni and cheese. It adds a smoky and savory element that pairs well with the cheesy sauce.

Jalapeno Mac and Cheese

If you enjoy a little heat, consider adding sliced jalapenos to your macaroni and cheese. The spicy kick of the peppers adds an exciting twist to the dish.

Spinach and Mushroom Mac and Cheese

For a healthier twist, sauté some fresh spinach and mushrooms and mix them into your macaroni and cheese. It adds a pop of color and extra nutrients to your meal.

Crab Mac and Cheese

For a seafood-inspired dish, add lump crab meat to your macaroni and cheese. The delicate sweetness of the crab complements the creamy cheese sauce beautifully.

Tips and Tricks

To make the best Southern-style baked macaroni and cheese, consider these tips and tricks:

Use a combination of different cheeses for a flavorful blend

Instead of relying solely on cheddar cheese, experiment with a blend of different cheeses. Try incorporating Gruyere, Fontina, or even blue cheese to add complexity and depth to the dish.

Add breadcrumbs or crushed crackers on top for a crunchy topping

If you prefer some texture contrast in your macaroni and cheese, sprinkle breadcrumbs or crushed crackers on top before baking. It adds a crispy and golden crust that is irresistible.

Experiment with spices like cayenne pepper or mustard powder for an extra kick

To enhance the flavor profile of your macaroni and cheese, consider adding spices like cayenne pepper or mustard powder. These ingredients add a subtle heat and tanginess that elevates the dish.

For a creamier mac and cheese, use evaporated milk or heavy cream

If you prefer an extra creamy and indulgent macaroni and cheese, replace some or all of the regular milk with evaporated milk or heavy cream. This will result in a velvety smooth sauce that is sure to please.

Let the mac and cheese sit for a few minutes after baking to set and firm up

Before serving the baked macaroni and cheese, allow it to rest for a few minutes. This allows the creamy sauce to set and firm up slightly, making it easier to slice and serve.

Conclusion

Southern-style baked macaroni and cheese is a delicious and comforting dish that brings people together. With the right ingredients and cooking techniques, you can easily make it at home and impress your loved ones. Feel free to add your own twists and variations to make it your own signature dish. So go ahead, grab a fork, and dig into a plate of creamy, cheesy goodness!

Jenny Jones

By Jenny Jones

Jenny Jones is a passionate culinary enthusiast hailing from the heart of the South. Born and raised in a small town known for its rich culinary traditions, she developed an unwavering love for Southern cooking from an early age.