Updated: Nov 25, 2020
Baked macaroni and cheese is one my favorite dishes to make. My family requests that make my Mac and Cheese for our holiday dinners, BBQs and even causal get togethers. Since I am from NC, hoop cheese is one of the cheeses I use in my Mac and Cheese. I saw my mom use hoop cheese when she prepared Mac and cheese and it is the cheese that I use when making this dish. Hoop cheese is a simple, traditional cheese made only from milk, where the whey has been totally pressed out. It is different from farmer cheese in that farmer cheese is made with milk, cream and salt, while hoop cheese is made from milk alone. You can spot hoop cheese by the thick red rind and is typically sold in Southern grocery stores. If you can't find it, you can use mild, medium and sharp cheese or substitute one of the cheddars and use gouda in your Mac and Cheese. You can use store bought shredded cheese but if you have time you should grate your cheese for optimal results! I am also very picky about the brand of elbows that I use. My favorite brand is Mueller's. I have tried other brands but the consistency of the Mueller's elbows are my favorite. With the Labor Day holiday approaching, give this recipe a try and let me know what you think!
Ingredients Need for Baked Mac and Cheese
1 16oz box of Mueller's elbows
4 tablespoons of cornstarch
2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
5 cups of whole milk
4 tablespoons of butter
8 oz block of sharp cheese, grated (reserve 2/3 cup for topping)
8 oz block of medium cheddar cheese, grated
12oz block hoop cheese grated (if you don't have hoop cheese use a 12 oz block of mild cheddar cheese or gouda)
Directions to Make Baked Mac and Cheese
1. Cook elbows in boiling water with salt until tender. Drain and set aside while you make the sauce.
2. Combine corn starch, salt, and pepper in in large nonstick Dutch oven. Stir in milk a little bit of milk and whisk with dry ingredients until you no longer see lumps then add the rest of the milk. Then add the butter.
3. Whisk constantly, bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for 2 minutes. It's very important that you stir constantly so it doesn't burn, DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!
After the mixture has boiled for 2 minutes, remove from heat. **You are looking for the sauce to thicken up**
4. Stir in shredded cheese until melted.
5. Add elbow noodles to cheese mixture and stir to combine. *You may not need all of the cooked elbows.* Add 3/4 of the cooked elbows and mix with the cheese sauce and add more if you think the mixture is too loose. 6. Turn into buttered 9x13 casserole dish. Sprinkle with reserved cheese. Hoop cheese or sharp is best for the topping
7. Bake uncovered in 375 degree oven for 25 minutes or until the top is brown and bubbly.
8. Let cool about 10 minutes before serving.