Jan 1, 2004

Old-fashioned mac and cheese

By: Diane Phillips

Old-fashioned mac and cheese Author: Style At Home

Jan 1, 2004

Old-fashioned mac and cheese

By: Diane Phillips

The template for macaroni and cheese is simple: a creamy white sauce, plenty of cheese, and elbow macaroni. You can use any small pasta, such as shells or tiny rigatoni, if you don’t have elbows on hand. Variations happen when you substitute cheese and add other ingredients that your family enjoys—so have fun with this one. The entire casserole can be assembled in a slow cooker liner and then refrigerated or frozen for later use. Before cooking, defrost the frozen casserole overnight in the refrigerator, bringing it up to room temperature for 45 minutes, and you will be on your way to slow-cooked comfort.

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 small onion or shallot, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup, optional)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups milk
4 drops Tabasco sauce
5 cups finely shredded mild yellow and sharp white Cheddar cheese, plus extra to top
6 cups elbow macaroni, cooked until soft but still chewy (2-4 minutes short of al dente)
1/2 cup crushed buttery crackers such as Ritz or Pepperidge Farm Golden Butter Crackers


1 Coat the insert of a 5- to 7-quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray or line it with a slow-cooker liner according to the manufacturer's directions.

2 Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until the onion is softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the flour, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, whisking. Gradually add the broth and milk and bring the sauce to a boil, whisking constantly. Add the Tabasco and remove the sauce from the heat.

3 Add 3 cups of the cheese to the sauce and stir to melt. spread half of macaroni in the slow-cooker insert and pour half of the sauce over the macaroni.

4 Sprinkle 1 cups of the cheese over the layer. Repeat with the remaining macaroni and sauce and 1 cup of the cheese. Cover and cook for on low for 4 to 5 hours, until the mac and cheese is bubbling and cooked through.

5 Sprinkle a little more cheese and the crackers over the top of the mac and cheese. Remove the cover and cook for an additional 30 minutes. Allow the mac and cheese to rest about 10 minutes. Serve in the cooker set on warm. 

Want more cheesy goodness? Check out variations on the classic recipe, including the recipe pictured!

Blue cheese mac and cheese
Follow the directions for the basic mac and cheese.

Add 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce with the tabasco.

Substitute crumbled blue cheese for 3 of the cups of cheese. Use half the blue cheese in the sauce and the rest between the layers and sprinkled on top. Proceed as directed.

Smoky Gouda mac and cheese

Follow the directions for the basic mac and cheese.

Substitute 3 cups finely shredded smoked gouda and 2 cups finely shredded monterey jack cheese for the cheddar.

Combine the cheeses in a bowl and use them equally as directed in the sauce, between the layers, and on top.Proceed as directed.

Mac and four-cheese Italiano

Follow the directions for the basic mac and cheese.

Substitute 11⁄4 cups each finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino Romano, 1 1⁄4 cups fresh mozzarella, and 11⁄4 cup crumbled gorgonzola for the cheddar cheeses.

Use the parmigiano and pecorino in the sauce and layer the mozzarella and gorgonzola in between the layers and sprinkled on top. proceed as directed.

Applewood smoked bacon, caramelized onion, and white cheddar mac and cheese (pictured)

Cook 8 strips of applewood smoked bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, remove it from the pan to drain, and crumble.

Caramelize 4 large sweet onions in a sauté pan with 1⁄2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1⁄2 teaspoon dried thyme until onions are golden, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Substitute sharp white cheddar for the cheese. Distribute the bacon and onions between the layers and proceed as directed.

Excerpted with permission from
Slow Cooker: The Best Cookbook Ever. Copyright © 2009 by Chronicle Books LLC. 

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Old-fashioned mac and cheese