Happy start of Fall! I’m always a little hesitant to accept the beginning of fall because summer is by far my favorite season. But I do loves soups, fall foliage, pumpkin, and a good football potluck.
Speaking of football potlucks I have just the thing for you to bring. Three Cheese Baked Macaroni and Cheese!
This is a pretty traditional mac and cheese but with the volumed turned up a bit because you know I can’t keep things boring over here!
The three cheeses I used were gruyere, sharp cheddar, and pepperjack. The gruyere and cheddar give the mac and cheese a nice flavor and the pepper jack is a great melting cheese that adds a bit of a kick! If you didn’t want the mac and cheese to have any heat, a good substitution for the pepperjack would be monterey jack cheese.
Mac and Cheese starts out with making a roux to make the cheese sauce. A roux is simply a mix of fat (in this case we’re using butter) and flour to act as a thickening agent for the sauce.
Whisk the flour in and whisk for a few minutes before adding the milk, salt, pepper, smoked paprika (this is optional but I like a bit of extra flavor), and three cheeses.
Once the cheese is all melted, bring the mixture to a simmer for a few minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.
A good way of testing if the sauce is thick enough is by taking a wooden spoon or spatula and doing the “drip” test. You should be able to swipe your finger through and it should take a bit for the sauce to close the gap. I hope that make sense hah If it just runs down quickly that means the sauce needs to simmer for a bit longer.
Add the partially cooked macaroni and then season to taste.
You want to pre boil the macaroni to just al dente (I do 8 minutes exactly) so that when you bake the mac and cheese the pasta doesn’t over cook.
Reserve about 1 cup of the shredded cheese to sprinkle over the top! You can complete the recipe up to this step and refrigerate it for up to 1 day in advance before baking it.
Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes until the top is bubbly and has some color to it.
YUM. Super creamy and classic. The perfect dish to share with others 🙂
Three Cheese Mac and Cheese
- 1 pound dried medium shells (or any shape you prefer)
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- ⅓ cup all purpose flour
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp smoked paprika or cayenne (optional)
- 2 heaping cups grated gruyere cheese (about 8oz)
- 1 heaping cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 4 oz)
- 1 heaping cup grated pepperjack cheese (about 4oz)
- Boil the pasta in salted water for 8 minutes, drain, rinse, and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- In a large soup pot, heat the butter over medium heat. Once melted add in the flour and whisk constantly for 2 minutes.
- Slowly pour in the milk while continuously whisking. Add in the salt, peper, smoked paprika, and 3 cups of the grated cheese (reserve 1 cup for topping).
- Whisk until the cheese is melted and simmer for about 3-4 minutes until the sauce thickens slightly. Remove from heat, stir in the cooked pasta, and season to taste for more salt and pepper.
- Pour into a baking dish and top with remaining cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes until mac and cheese is bubbling. Cool slightly, serve immediately.
This was so tasty. I brought it to a football potluck this past weekend with friends and they all loved it. No bite was left behind! Another great thing to bring to a potluck would be my caramelized onion dip or crab and artichoke dip. I will be sure to come up with some new dip recipes soon to share.
Later this week I’ll share my favorite fall inspired soup recipe and a new baked item!