Alfredo Mac and Cheese

Mac and Cheese is a classic comfort food, particularly for these cold winter months. Try this version that has a garlicky, Alfredo twist.

Alfredo Mac and Cheese

I’ve been making Mac and Cheese from scratch for a really long time. I’ve been making Fettucine Alfredo for just as long. This winter, I decided to make the ultimate smash-up. The result was a creamy, garlicky, cheese, noodle dish that can go from stove to oven to table in less than 30 minutes. While it bakes, steam some broccoli or toss together a salad for a complete meal.

How’s that for pretty awesome?

Years ago, like more than 30, I read a series of books about a girl named Ginnie. My favorite in the series was Ginnie and the Cooking Contest. It’s unfortunately out of print right now, else I’d be buying up the whole series to read with my girls. Proof that I was a foodie, even in third grade.

If memory serves me correctly — and I am getting on in age — Ginnie learned how to make all kinds of things, including macaroni and cheese. This of course was before it came in a blue box. I was fascinated. The only mac and cheese I knew came in a box, and the powdered cheese was way better than the canned. Way.

Years ago I started experimenting with homemade mac and cheese, and in the  process learned how to make white sauce. Otherwise known as Bechamel, it’s made with a butter and flour roux to which you whisk in milk. That’s the beginning of this dish as well.

However instead of stirring in your classic cheddar, we’re going to go Italian. I’ve used Asiago, Romano, and Parmesan. Asiago seems to be the most affordable in my neck of the wood. It adds great flavor to the sauce. In addition to the hard cheese, this recipe calls for a softer shredding cheese like mozzarella. It adds the gooey cheesiness.

Alfredo Mac

I’m thinking that next time, I’ll use jack cheese instead. It has a bit more moisture and flavor which I think would take this over the top.

I’ve made this with leftover turkey stirred in, but we prefer the plain “just cheese” version. Also, recently, I made it with a sprinkling of green onion (aka scallions, to my cookbook editors) and I really liked the extra bite the onion added. Do with it what you will.

Once you mix up the sauce and add it to the cooked pasta, you’ll run it all through a hot oven. In between the mixing and the baking, you could cool, wrap, and chill for baking later or for freezing. If you take that route, you’ll need to adjust the baking time to allow for the cold pasta to warm up. I’d recommend adding an extra 10 to 15 minutes, but check it. Your pasta may have absorbed more sauce or not be as cold as another pan. Ovens run differently, etc.

You can bake the noodles in a large 9×13 pan or in individual serving dishes. Both have their place. Cooking for a crowd like I do, making one big pan is easier. If you’re cooking for fewer people, then divide it into meal-size pans and freeze the extras.

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Comments

  1. Last time I made homemade mac and cheese, after I added the cheese (just cheddar), the sauce broke. What did I do wrong? Did I not stir the original butter-flour-milk sauce long enough? It wasn’t really thick when I added the cheese.

    Thanks for any help!

    • Nia Hanna says:

      A couple months ago I had the same thing happen to me when I tried to make my mac ‘n’ cheese the way my mom does (she adds milk after adding cheese to the noodles) and it went all wrong and separated. I thought, well I’ll ad some butter to make it extra good and it separated further. I sprinkled in some flour & stirred. It came together some, so I added more flour and continued adding flour until I reached a thick, creamy cheesiness that we know & love & know our macaroni and cheese to be. Hubby dubbed it the best I’d ever made, I had to agree. I’ve made it twice more since then and have made the same way. When I see the separation, I know it’s time to add the flour.

    • I’m not really sure. I’ve never had that happen. Do you have the same proportions of butter to flour to milk? That could be part of it.

      • I think I did. I was following the recipe from Cook This, Not That which is pretty handy at pointing out restaurant meals that could be made better for you and for less money.And since we live in a fairly rural area (40+ minutes to get to a Chili’s for instance), making food at home is almost always quicker too.

        I’ll try yours next time. I think part of the problem may have been not using full fat milk. I suspect some of the chemistry depends on using enough fat which would have been missing from my nonfat milk.

    • From Food Wishes’ Chef John, the recommendations are: hot roux + cold milk = no lumps for the Bechamel; the sauce will only be as thick as it gets when the Bechamel comes to a simmer; and turn off the heat to add the cheese. This strategy has worked pretty well for me, and I’ve ruined many a nice cheese sauce in the past by not following these steps. So I know the heartache of a broken cheese sauce!

  2. I loved those books too!!!

  3. Abe Books .com has used copies of Ginnie and the Cooking Contest but the cheapest is $19.33.

  4. Oops, I checked Amazon and they have a used hardcover for $9.97 and a used paperback for $13.

  5. Oh, I loved the Ginnie series and the Cathy series by the same author! Ginnie made homemade rolls, too, and her mother made fresh lemon jelly cake. I still have several of those books. =) My daughter has enjoyed them, too.

  6. Stephanie M. says:

    Macaroni and Cheese is such a good comfort food and most everyone loves it. Like you, I’ve been making my own now for years and it’s a great freezer meal as well. When I make it, I split it up into two meals; one for that night and one for the freezer. I start out making a roux like yours with flour and butter and when bubbly, I add 2 cups of milk; when that comes to a boil, I remove it from the heat and stir in 1/2 lb. grated cheddar followed by 1 cup of heavy cream. Then I pour over the macaroni which is 1 lb. and bake in the oven. This is a totally delicious and very unhealthy meal but we love it anyway. Your recipe sounds wonderful also and I’m going to certainly give it a try because we also love fettucini alfredo.

  7. We don’t have boxed mac n cheese in the UK so it was one of the first things I learnt to cook. I’ve tweaked it many times over the years but now my favourite cheese to use is gruyère. I find you can use less cheese and still get a good flavour. I never make a roux anymore, just add the flour, milk and butter to the pan then whisk, whisk, whisk until thickened. Perfect sauce every time. I also do a version with puréed squash, which bulks out the cheese sauce, even my squash hating kids love it!

  8. Love how you talk about your recipes and then give them. I am so much more interested in a dish when I hear all about it and it helps to understand where/when substitutions would be appropriate. Really great blog. Thanks for the hard work I know keeping this up must take.

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