Easy, Fast, Creamy Mac & Cheese from Scratch

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Hunting season is upon us here in Minnesota. The air is crisp; the leaves are falling, and our extra freezer is bare – ready to be filled with a fresh batch of wild game.

Meanwhile, I’ve been on the hunt for a homemade mac and cheese recipe…

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There’s nothing quite like creamy, homemade mac and cheese. No box mix. No powdered cheese packet. Just noodles, milk, and real cheese. That’s it.

I’ve had my share of fails in attempting to make homemade mac. Too dry, too bland, just plain gross.

But, after plenty of research and combining tips from several recipes I’ve found both online and in my favorite cookbooks, alas, I’ve nailed it.

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The beauty of this recipe is that it requires equal amounts of pasta, milk, and cheese. So, adjusting the number of servings is a piece of cake. It also can be made with whatever types of pasta, milk, and cheese you happen to have on hand: very necessary for a busy, weeknight meal that will please the whole family.

The crunchy, buttered, garlic breadcrumbs add wonderful flavor and texture to the pasta. I use plain Panko breadcrumbs, and after the pasta is cooked, I transfer the pasta to an ovenproof, glass baking/serving dish, toss on the breadcrumbs and put it under the broiler for a few minutes to finish it off.

And, if you’re really in a hurry…skip the breadcrumbs all together for a one-pan mac and cheese dish in a flash.

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Creamy Mac & Cheese from Scratch
Serves 4

2 cups pasta
2 cups milk
2 cups shredded cheese
½ cup breadcrumbs
1 clove garlic, pressed or finely chopped
1 Tbsp butter
Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine pasta and milk in a large saucepan and simmer over medium to medium-low heat, stirring frequently, for about 20 minutes or until the pasta is al dente and the milk is mostly absorbed. Be careful not to let it boil. While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic to the skillet and saute in the butter for about a minute. Add the breadcrumbs and saute until browned, stirring continuously. When pasta is al dente, remove from heat – DO NOT DRAIN – and stir in shredded cheese until melted and combined. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer pasta to a serving dish, top with toasted breadcrumbs, and serve. You can also put this under the broiler for a few minutes, if you’d like.

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