Macaroni and Cheese From Scratch, No.1

My daughter’s favorite macaroni and cheese.

And why No.1? Because there are many ways to put together a mac-n-cheese, and they don’t always involve a bechamel sauce.  This is also pretty much the way Piccadilly Cafeteria makes their mac-n-cheese.  It’s a great recipe to use as a base.

  • 2 cups elbow macaroni, undercooked by a minute (al dente)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 8 ounces grated sharp or medium cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 drops of your favorite hot sauce
  • Extra grated cheese for the top

**A lot of preshredded cheeses have anti-caking additives added to them.  These may prevent your sauce from thickening.

Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Cook them al dente, which means to cook them “to the tooth”.  When done, rinse and cold water and set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and whisk in the flour.  Cook this for one to two minutes; do not let brown.  Use a whisk to slowly add the milk, about a half cup at a time.  Whisk constantly to avoid lumps.  When fully incorporated, return to a gentle simmer for about 5 minutes or until thickened.  Add the seasonings and the cheese.

Combine the pasta with the cheese sauce and place in an 8×8 casserole dish, or other similar sized baking dish.  Top with about 1/2 cup grated cheddar.  At this point, this can be refrigerated until ready to bake.  Let sit at room temperature for about 25 minutes before baking.

Seal with foil, and bake for 25-30 minutes in a preheated oven.

To brown the top, remove the dish from the oven.  Remove the foil.  Return the dish to the oven, and broil for 2 to 3 minutes until the cheese browns lightly.

Serve immediately.

Here is my tri-tip recipe:


Adding the cheese to the bechamel sauce.


The final touch-three drops of your favorite hot sauce.


The main components: cooked macaroni, cheese sauce, and extra cheese for the top.


….all covered in cheese!


After 25 minutes in the oven, ready for the broiler.


Fresh from the broiler.


A perfect plate: Grilled Tri-tip, macaroni and cheese, and some sauteed squash.

This dish was made to go with a California original, the Tri-tip roast.  There is an excellent article on (  interviewing the guys who made this dish famous at an Elk Lodge in Santa Maria, California.  Macaroni and cheese was one of the original dishes served up, but today it is oftentimes replaced by a macaroni salad or other salad.

One thought on “Macaroni and Cheese From Scratch, No.1

  1. Pingback: Santa Maria Pinquito Beans | icookforleftovers

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