- 1 C elbow macaroni (4 oz)
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/4 C all-purpose flour
- 1 -1/2 C whole milk
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp ground white or black pepper
- 1 -1/2 C grated sharp Cheddar, divided (about 4 ounces)
- 1/2 C crushed Hot 'n Spicy Cheez-It crackers
2. Cook macaroni according to package instructions, drain, set aside.
3. Spray 1-1/2 quart casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray, set aside.
4. Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until well combined (up to 90 seconds). Do not allow the flour to brown. Using a whisk, add the milk slowly and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add salt, pepper, 1 C of the cheese, and stir well.
5. In a mixing bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 C of cheese with the crushed Cheez-Its.
6. Add the macaroni to the pot with the milk and cheese. Stir to combine well, then pour the mixture into casserole dish. Top with the cheez-it mixture. Bake until golden brown and bubbly at the edges, about 20-25 minutes.
7. Remove the dish from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Yield: 3 servings
Tips: Once the flour and butter have been incorporated, spoon some of that mixture into the measuring cup full of milk. This will help the milk start to warm up to the temperature of the flour and butter, so that when the milk is poured into the pan it doesn't curdle. The less fat there is in the milk, the higher the likelihood of curdling, so using whole milk you're unlikely to have this problem, but this is a useful trick to have in your arsenal.
When I had finished whisking in the milk, the sauce seemed quite thin to me, but it thickened up a lot during baking, so don't worry too much if it appears thin to you.
If you have a food processor, you can crush the crackers with it, otherwise use the method I usually use (I don't enjoy cleaning my food processor, so I don't use it often): bag the crackers in a zip-loc bag (double bag if not using heavy-duty freezer bags), then crush with a rolling pin. 1 C of whole crackers will crush to a bit over 1/2 C.
Robyn's notes: I wrote this recipe after my friend Patience Ann mentioned that her mom had used Cheez-Its for her macaroni and cheese topping when cooking for a Scouting event recently. I immediately started thinking about the various Cheez-It varieties and how each of them could be used to make a different kind of mac n cheese. My taste-testers really enjoyed this (as did I), and I'm quite proud of it. I made this in individual casserole dishes, instead of the one large one I've written the recipe for. There was exactly enough for three servings.
**** 4 Stars: Very Good. Enjoyed by us both, I will make this frequently
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