I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I love macaroni and cheese; any type of cheese, baked or creamy, imaginative or traditional, fresh or frozen. It barely matters. I love them all. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever met a macaroni and cheese I haven’t enjoyed for one reason or another. But, I do have my favorites; some for the combination of cheese, some for the addition of interesting ingredients, and some for purely sentimental reasons.
One of my favorite macaroni and cheeses in the whole world is easily my Grandma’s. It is the macaroni and cheese I grew to know and love as a child. I’d know it blindfolded by its smell, taste, and texture. It’s a spoonful of perfect comfort. My grandma, (or Bunger, as she’s lovingly known within the family) uses a familiar combination of Cheez Whiz, cheddar, and American cheese. Crunchy corn flakes complete the comforting dish.
The secret might be in the Cheez Whiz, but I suspect otherwise. Though she didn’t mention it when I called for the recipe, I’m pretty sure the secret ingredient is a hefty dose of love! So, don’t forget to throw some in!
It should be noted that when I called my grandma for the recipe, she couldn’t give me any exact measurements. Like many familiar family favorites, she cooks the dish by instinct; a little of this, a little of that, and a little more of this until it’s right. And you just know it’s right when it is. The recipe which follows is my attempt at putting precise measurements to my grandma’s recipe. It may not be exactly like hers, but it’s pretty close!
Bunger’s Baked Macaroni and Cheese
- 2 pounds elbow macaroni
- 3 cups milk
- 1 15-ounce jar Cheez Whiz or other cheese dip/sauce
- 1 8-ounce package shredded mild cheddar or 2 cups shredded Velveeta cheese
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 8 tablespoons butter (1 stick), divided
- 2 cups cornflakes, crushed
- 12 slices American cheese or Velveeta cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook pasta according to package directions. Strain, toss with two tablespoons of butter, and set aside.
In a separate pot, bring the milk and one tablespoon of the butter to a simmer over medium heat. Turn the heat down to low to maintain a gentle simmer. Slightly warm the Cheez Whiz for a few seconds in the microwave. Add the Cheese Whiz and shredded cheese to the simmering milk. Stir until melted and well combined. Crack the two eggs into the Cheez Whiz jar. Close the jar and shake vigorously to whip the eggs. (I’m pretty sure there’s a little magic in this step!) Slowly pour the whipped eggs into the milk and cheese mixture. Stir to combine. Add the garlic powder and pepper. Cook for a few minutes over low/medium-low heat.
Pour the cheese sauce over the macaroni and toss to combine. Divide the cheesy macaroni between two large (13×9 inch) baking dishes. Cover the top of the macaroni with the American cheese slices and the crushed corn flakes. Melt the remaining five tablespoons of butter and drizzle over the top of the cornflakes.
Bake for about 25-30 minutes until hot and bubbly around the edges.
Makes 2 Large Baking Dishes…one for dinner, one for the freezer!*
*Freeze the extra dish prior to baking. Defrost and bake before serving.
After making this dish, you’ll probably find yourself with a bit of leftovers. And I’ve got the best way to use them! Recently, an old friend of mine from college posted a picture of her newest culinary creation; a macaroni and cheese burrito! I’ve always thought that Sara was one of the funniest people I know. I’m now convinced that she is also one of the smartest! A burrito filled with macaroni and cheese and crispy fried onions for crunch; a Mac & Chito, if you will! Pure genius!
To prepare yourself a gourmet Mac & Chito, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place a slice of American cheese in the center of a burrito-sized flour tortilla. Place a scoop of warmed macaroni and cheese on top of the cheese. Sprinkle with a generous quantity of fried onion pieces, such as French’s French Fried Onions. Wrap the tortilla burrito style (fold the top and bottom over the macaroni, then roll). Partially wrap the burrito in foil and bake for about 10 minutes, until thoroughly heated.