Since when has mac & cheese at Thanksgiving been a thing?
I don't know about you, but at my thanksgiving table we have never had mac and cheese....it feels wrong! Honestly, it seems only right that this American staple is listed aside the stuffing, mashed potatoes, and rolls on our Thanksgiving plates. It's cheese-loaded, carb-tastic, and ultra satisfying. Basically a no brainer.
This recipe features 4 cups of cheese, cavatappi noodles (the cutest noodle in my opinion), and it's garnished with delish fresh basil. I love fresh basil, but you can totally omit if you'd like.
So, in the spirit of making this Thanksgiving even more memorable, I present you an epic mac and cheese recipe...let's get to it!
MAC AND CHEESE
yield: 6-8 servings | ready in an hour
I N G R E D I E N T S
4 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp butter
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp paprika
½ tsp mustard
⅛ tsp nutmeg
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp flour
4 cups milk
4 cups cheese
6 oz cream cheese
16 oz pasta, elbows
¼ cup parmesan + ¼ cup panko bread crumbs
Handful fresh basil, optional
M E T H O D
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease an 8x11 baking dish or a 10" round dish (I used my favorite Lodge Cast Iron).
Place a large pot (about 6qt) over medium-high heat. Add 4 tbsp of olive oil, 4 tbsp butter, salt, pepper, paprika, and mustard. Stir until oil is hot & spices are fragrant -- about 3 minutes.
Add garlic, stir for an additional 2 minutes. Whisk in flour. Continue to whisk until flour dissolves into the oil & butter. It will look pretty clumpy!
Continue to stir as you add milk. Bring to a boil, then add pasta and cream cheese.
After 5 minutes, reduce heat to medium-low. Add in cheese, stir until fully incorporated. Cook for 5 more minutes.
Transfer mac and cheese to your greased baking dish.
Cover with a generous dusting of panko and parmesan. Bake for 20-30 minutes until bread crumbs are golden brown.
Serve hot with a sprinkle of pepper & fresh basil.
R E C I P E N O T E S
MAKE AHEAD: complete steps 1-6. Cool completely, then store in the fridge for up to three days. Bring to room temp, then bake according to steps 7 & 8.
FREEZER STORAGE: Mac & Cheese well in an airtight container for up to 6 months. Make sure to freeze after it has cooled completely.
For extra nutrition, toss in broccoli, peas, spinach, or green beans in the mix in step 5 when adding the cheese!
CHEESY NOTES: I used 8oz colby, 2 oz cheddar, 3 oz gouda, 2 oz monterey jack, 1 oz gruyere. You can use your favorite cheeses, stick to one, or go crazy! Another excellent combo is mozerella + cheddar + fontina + parmesan... yum!!