Mac and cheese might be my all-time favourite side to accompany just about anything. However, this classic side dish can get kind of boring after a while, so let’s spice it up by adding a smoky flavour of beef and baking it instead of going with the classic stovetop method of preparation.
I have taken this specific mac and cheese dish to countless parties and get-togethers, and it has always been a hit. While this mac will not help you achieve your ideal beach body, it will help you make friends when they ask you for the recipe. The smoky flavour in this recipe comes from smoked paprika, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t have a smoker. No smoking necessary!
The foundation of this macaroni and cheese recipe comes from making a delicious mornay sauce. Now, if you don’t know what that is, don’t worry, it’s very simple. And that’s why we are here, to learn!
Smoky Baked Mac and CheesePrint Recipe
- 1 stick of unsalted whole butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon of smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon of ground cayenne
- 1/3 cup of all-purpose flour
- 6 cups of whole milk
- 1 pound box of pasta
- 1 pound of pre-cooked ground beef
- 1 pound of cheddar cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Boil about 4 quarts of water in a stockpot, cook pasta until al dente.
- Rinse your stockpot. Then, over medium heat, using your same stockpot, add half the stick of butter, diced onion, bay leaves, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, and a pinch of salt. Sweat all these ingredients together until onions are translucent and spices are fragrant.
- Once your aromatics are sweated completely, add in the other half of the stick of butter. And stir in flour. (Note: this is called a roux.)
- Now that you have your roux made add in the milk and bring to a boil. (Note: be sure to whisk regularly to prevent anything from burning to the bottom of your pot.) Once the mixture boils, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 20 minutes quickly.
- After simmering, begin to infuse your aromatics into your milk. Turn off heat and add the shredded cheddar 1/4 at a time, stirring constantly. (Note: this is now your completed mornay sauce!) Hold onto a small amount of cheese, maybe half a cup, to the top before baking.
- Now, combine the pasta with your finished mornay sauce, mix thoroughly, and place in a baking pan. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
- Bake for 30 minutes, then take out from the oven, and allow to cool for 10 minutes, and voilà!