A homemade macaroni and cheese recipe that everyone thinks is the "best ever" probably doesn't exist. There's just too much variation in what people like and, as the saying goes, there's no accounting for taste.
Still, if a recipe yields mac-and-cheese that's creamy with good texture and flavor then it's a winner in my book. Is this recipe as good as your mom used to make?
Well, that probably depends on your mom. If she's Martha Stewart then maybe you've had better. Otherwise I'm gonna say "Yeah" - this recipe is as good as mom's. And if it ain't, then a small tweak here or there will probably do the trick.
The Egg vs. No Egg Debate
An ingredient in this recipe, which is fairly common actually, is egg. As explained to me, eggs in your mac-and-cheese help with the binding of the ingredients. If you have enough cheese and milk to egg ratio, your mac-and-cheese will be creamy with a "very slight" yet smooth custard-like texture.
But if you do add eggs without using enough cheese or milk (especially milk), then you'll end up with scrambled eggs in your mac-and-cheese.
To satisfy my curiosity regarding this egg vs. no egg debate, I prepared my macaroni and cheese recipe with and without egg. Prior to cooking, there was a noticeable difference in appearance once all the ingredients were put together.
As you can see, the pre-cooked mac and cheese mixture that contained eggs (top picture) had more volume in terms of cheese sauce covering the noodles. The version without eggs (bottom picture) contained less, with more of the macaroni noodles being exposed.
There was a very slight difference in appearance after cooking as well.
The lack of eggs made the cheese sauce in the no egg version a bit more smooth in appearance. The egg version was creamy as well. However, as mentioned earlier, it had a very slight custard-like consistency.
It's worth noting, however, that as each version approached room temperature you could no longer tell them apart. The lack of heat to keep the cheese melted created a more custard-like texture in both versions.
What about taste, you say?
Well, there was also a slight but noticeable difference in taste between the two versions. I really don't know how to describe it. The egg version just seemed to have a bit more flavor. Perhaps its binding qualities help merge the flavors in some way. All I can say is that it had a slightly better flavor to me.
Without any further adieu, here's my homemade macaroni and cheese recipe...
- 2 cups uncooked large elbow macaroni
- 16 oz sharp cheddar cheese
- 8 oz Monterey jack
- 8 oz Kraft Philadephia Neufchâtel cheese*
- 4 cups of Half & Half (half whole milk and half light cream)
- 1 stick of butter
- 3 tbls flour
- 1 tbls garlic salt
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- 2 eggs
- paprika to add a bit of color
- *(Sold with the regular cream cheese. Says "1/3 less fat than cream cheese" on label. Neufchâtel cheese is softer and more creamy than regular cream cheese.)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook macaroni according to directions on package. Drain.
- In a saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Gradually whisk in flour to make a roux. Slowly add milk, stirring constantly. Add garlic salt, pepper, and dry mustard to roux. Continue stirring.
- Next, stir in cheeses and cook over low heat until cheese has melted and sauce is nice and smooth.
- Put macaroni in a large casserole dish and pour sauce over macaroni. Stir well and let cool for about 10 minutes.
- Lightly beat two eggs and add to the macaroni and cheese. Mix thoroughly.
- Sprinkle a little paprika on top for coloring and bake at 350°F for 40-45 minutes. When done, let rest for 5-8 minutes before serving.