Skillet Mac & Queso
Macaroni and Cheese is one of my favorite comfort foods. I grew up mostly on the packaged powder brands, but nothing beats homemade mac and cheese. Skillet Mac & Queso is my weeknight go-to because it requires very little clean-up and has become a family favorite. Not only is it simple to make, but can be enjoyed as a main or side dish. As a main dish, Skillet Mac & Queso goes well with a side of arugula drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and honey.
*Update: my original recipe called for elbow pasta and less cheese, but someone pointed out to me that mac and cheese taste better when the cheese hides inside the shell. I couldn’t agree more!*
Serving Size: 4-6
3 1/2 cups uncooked medium pasta shells
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups whole milk
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground mustard
¼ teaspoons salt
3 1/2 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs (in a small bowl)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place an oven proof skillet on the middle rack.
Prepare pasta al dente, about 6-7 minutes, drain and set aside.
Remove skillet from the oven and place on the stovetop. Add butter and melt completely, swirling to cover entire bottom and sides of skillet.
Remove from stovetop and scoop two tablespoons of butter and pour over breadcrumbs, coating well. Set the bowl of breadcrumbs aside.
Return skillet to stovetop over low-medium heat and dust the flour into the skillet. Whisk for about 1 minute until creamy, but do not let the sauce brown. Gradually add milk and continue to whisk for another 2 minutes. With a heat resistant spoon or spatula, continue to stir until smooth, then remove skillet from heat. Stir in nutmeg and mustard.
Add 3 cups of cheese to sauce a little at a time and stir until melted. Add salt and stir.
Add cooked pasta to cheese sauce and stir gently until evenly coated. Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup cheese and bread crumbs over the top, distributing evenly.
Place the skillet in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 10-12 minutes. Move skillet to the top rack and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for 5 minutes before serving.