Cooking is a form of “crafting” right?? I love to cook and mac and cheese is one of my all time favorite dishes. This is my oven recipe, I also have a crock pot version but to be honest this is my favorite one. I originally posted this recipe on a cooking blog I had back in 2010. I’m reposting it over here for your viewing and cooking pleasure! (My kids LOVE this dish, well, not ALL my kids. My youngest twin will only eat Kraft mac and cheese from a box and refuses to touch this, but the other two love it!)
A little back story before I share the recipe. My version of this recipe is based on the mac and cheese that the Michigan Cafe at the Henry Ford Museum (Greenfield Village) in Dearborn used to serve. I – loved – that – stuff! It was soooooo good! For one thing they used Cellentini pasta which I’d never seen before and I thought that was mega cool. But the best thing was all the cheese, big gooey, stretchy chunks of sharp cheddar cheese that clung to the swirly pasta. Oh my gosh, I would go into a food coma!
Back home I was determined to find a copy cat recipe and quickly started searching for one. But I couldn’t find one, so I just took an old mac and cheese recipe and gave it a nice Henry Ford Museum twist (ha ha!) and this is what I came up with! I’m happy to say it tastes just like what I got at the Michigan Cafe.
That’s the good news. Now for the bad.
On my last visit to the Michigan Cafe, after years of not visiting, I eagerly ordered up a nice big bowl of that classic mac and cheese. I could not wait to dive in again and find all that glorious cheese. Only to find…they changed the recipe! Apparently the folks at the Michigan Cafe caved to the health food craze (which I think mac and cheese should be exempt from!) and reworked the recipe and made it taste like….well… like blech!
Now some people might like it. It does still have the Cellantini, so that’s a definite plus! But the ooey gooey stringy cheese chunks are gone, replaced with a soupy kind of white sauce with lots of pepper. Yuck. Even my eight year old son, who is a mac and cheese connoisseur, would not touch the stuff. And my Kraft girl? You don’t even want to know what her reaction was!
So that’s my sad mac and cheese story. You can’t get the good stuff at the Michigan Cafe anymore, so make this instead! I promise you’ll love it!
1 8 oz package of cellantani (or macaroni if you prefer) I sometimes add a bit more
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 8 oz block SHARP Cheddar cheese, shredded & divided (I actually shred a little more than 1/2 of the block, then cut the remainder in chunks.
Prepare pasta according to package directions, drain & keep warm. Melt butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium low heat; whisk in flour until smooth. Cook, whisking constantly for 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk, and cook whisking constantly for 5 minutes or until thickened. (It helps to have all your ingredients pre measured so you don’t have to keep stepping away from the stove) Remove from heat. Stir in salt & pepper and 1 cup of the shredded cheese, the chunks of cheese and the cooked pasta.
Spoon pasta mixture into a lightly greased 2 qt. baking dish, top with remaining 1 cup cheese. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Makes 2-3 main dish or 4-6 side dish servings.
* a lot of the time I double this recipe because it’s so good everyone complains that it’s gone too soon!
I hope you enjoy this classic mac and cheese recipe with a Michigan twist and will give it a try soon!