Get ready to elevate your mac and cheese game with this easy cast iron mac and cheese recipe featuring a rich and creamy cheese sauce. Say goodbye to dry, bland mac and cheese made with a custard-style base and hello to a decadent, mouth-watering dish that will leave your taste buds craving more. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a beginner in the kitchen, this recipe is sure to impress with its simple preparation and delicious results. So grab your cast iron skillet and let’s get cooking!
When making the sauce, be sure to not let your sauce cook too long because it’ll become too thick once you add all of the cheese. I only cook it for about 10 minutes to slightly thicken it – no longer than that.
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History of Cast Iron Mac and Cheese
Mac and cheese is a popular dish that has been enjoyed by people all over the world for centuries. The origins of mac and cheese can be traced back to Italy, where it was known as “maccheroni al formaggio” or “macaroni and cheese.” The dish was typically made with pasta, parmesan cheese, and butter, and was considered a delicacy among the wealthy.
In the late 1700s, Thomas Jefferson, who had tasted mac and cheese while traveling in Italy, brought a pasta machine back to the United States and introduced mac and cheese to his countrymen. It quickly became a popular dish in America, particularly in the southern states.
During the Great Depression, mac and cheese became a popular dish because it was inexpensive and could be made with simple ingredients that were readily available. In the 1930s, Kraft Foods introduced its boxed mac and cheese, which became a staple in American households and remains popular to this day.
Over the years, mac and cheese has evolved into a versatile dish that can be customized with a variety of ingredients, from bacon to lobster. It has also become a beloved comfort food that is enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds.
Ingredients For Cast Iron Mac and Cheese
- 1 lb macaroni elbows, cooked and drained
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 4 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 tbsp salt
- 3 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 24 oz shredded sharp cheddar
- 16 oz shredded mozzarella
- 8 oz shredded colby jack
Instructions For Cast Iron Mac and Cheese
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a large pot, melt 4 tbsp of unsalted butter over medium heat.
- Add 4 tbsp of all-purpose flour and stir for 1 minute until combined.
- Gradually pour in 4 cups of whole milk, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming.
- Cook the milk mixture over medium heat for 10 minutes until slightly thickened.
- Add 24 oz of shredded sharp cheddar, 16 oz of shredded mozzarella, and 8 oz of shredded colby jack to the pot. Stir until the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth.
- Add the cooked macaroni elbows to the cheese sauce and stir until the pasta is fully coated.
- Transfer the mac and cheese to a cast iron skillet.
- Sprinkle the remaining 8 oz of shredded sharp cheddar and 8 oz of shredded mozzarella over the top of the mac and cheese.
- Bake the mac and cheese in the preheated oven for 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown and bubbling.
- Remove the skillet from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy your delicious and easy cast iron mac and cheese with creamy cheese sauce!
Tips For Cast Iron Mac and Cheese
- Use a cast iron skillet: A cast iron skillet is the perfect vessel for baking mac and cheese because it distributes heat evenly and creates a crispy crust on the top of the dish.
- Don’t overcook the pasta: Be sure to cook the pasta until it is al dente, or slightly firm to the bite, so that it doesn’t become mushy when baked in the oven.
- Use whole milk: Whole milk is the best type of milk to use for the cheese sauce because it creates a richer, creamier texture than lower-fat milk.
- Shred your own cheese: Pre-shredded cheese often contains additives and doesn’t melt as well as freshly grated cheese. Shredding your own cheese will give you a better result.
- Experiment with cheese combinations: The recipe calls for a combination of sharp cheddar, mozzarella, and colby jack cheese, but you can use any type of cheese you like or combine different types for a unique flavor.
- Add toppings: If you want to add a little extra flavor and texture to your mac and cheese, try adding breadcrumbs, bacon bits, or chopped herbs to the top before baking.
- Let it cool before serving: Mac and cheese can be very hot straight out of the oven, so it’s best to let it cool for a few minutes before serving to avoid burning your mouth.
FAQ’s Of Cast Iron Mac and Cheese
Q: Is Cast Iron mac and cheese unhealthy?
A: Traditional mac and cheese recipes can be high in fat and calories, but there are healthier versions that use low-fat milk, whole wheat pasta, and reduced-fat cheese. It’s all about moderation and choosing ingredients wisely.
Q: Can I make mac and cheese ahead of time?
A: Yes, you can make mac and cheese ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Just be sure to reheat it thoroughly before serving.
Q: How can I make my Cast Iron mac and cheese creamier?
A: To make your mac and cheese creamier, you can add a little more milk or cream to the cheese sauce, or you can stir in some cream cheese or sour cream.
Q: Can I use different types of pasta for Cast Iron mac and cheese?
A: Yes, you can use any type of pasta you like for mac and cheese, but it’s best to choose a shape that will hold onto the cheese sauce, such as elbow macaroni, penne, or shells.
Q: Can I make mac and cheese without cheese?
A: While mac and cheese is traditionally made with cheese, there are vegan and dairy-free versions that use alternative ingredients like nutritional yeast, cashews, or tofu to create a cheesy flavor and texture.
Q: How do I prevent my mac and cheese from drying out?
A: To prevent your mac and cheese from drying out, be sure to not overcook the pasta, use enough sauce to coat the pasta, and cover the dish with foil while baking to trap in the moisture. You can also add a little extra milk or cream to the cheese sauce to keep it from thickening too much.
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Cast Iron Mac and Cheese with Cheese Sauce
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour
1 lb macaroni elbows – cooked and drained
4 tbs unsalted butter
4 tbs flour
4 cups milk
1 tbs salt
3 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
24 ounces shredded sharp cheddar
16 ounces shredded mozzarella
8 ounces shredded colby jack
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a pot, melt butter over medium heat.
- Add flour and stir for 1 minute.
- Add milk and stir until flour is fully combined.
- Cook milk mixture over medium heat for 10 minutes until slightly thickened.
- Add 16 ounces of sharp cheddar, 8 ounces mozzarella, and 8 ounces of colby jack. Stir until smooth and cheese has melted.
- Add macaroni and stir.
- Add macaroni to a cast iron skillet.
- Once in skillet, add remaining 8 ounces of sharp cheddar and 8 ounces of mozzarella.
- Baked for 45 minutes or until the top starts to bubble and brown.
Be sure to add about a tablespoon of salt to your water when boiling the noodles.
Keywords: mac and cheese