Sure, boxed mac and cheese is something everyone always has in their pantry for those just-in-case scenarios where time is not on your side. But even when you’re in a time crunch, Valerie Bertinelli’s Stovetop Mac & Cheese recipe is just as easy to put together as the boxed variety and uses pantry staples to create a deep and satisfying cheese flavor that that boxed mac and cheese just can’t compete with.
The entire sauce comes together while the elbow macaroni is boiling. It starts with cornstarch to create a thick consistency, dijon mustard, and hot sauce. “This isn’t really going to heat up your mac and cheese. It’s just going to give it some flavor,” Bertinelli says in a February 25 video posted to the Food Network YouTube channel.
Add some evaporated milk (something most of us have at the back of our pantries) to create a slurry, meaning that all the cornstarch is mixed evenly with the liquids.
Then, of course, it’s time to shred up your cheese. Bertinelli likes using Colby Jack, though you can get creative with whatever you have in your fridge. “Colby’s got all that flavor — that is the orange part of the cheese. And the white part, Jack, is a super duper great melting cheese,” Bertinelli says. “So by putting these two together, somebody out there is a genius.”
But you may want to skip that pre-packaged shredded cheese you have in your stash. “I like using the brick because, first of all, it’s less expensive than the pre-shredded cheese,” Bertinelli explains. “And the pre-shredded cheese — they’ve got some extra stuff in there that you really don’t need. It takes a little bit longer to melt. This puppy is going to melt super duper fast.”
When the pasta is just about cooked, reserve some pasta water and then drain the rest. Add butter and your cornstarch slurry and cook until the sauce becomes creamy. Then, add your shredded cheese and a splash of pasta water and once everything is melty, you’re ready to serve!
Grab Bertinelli’s full recipe here and kick that boxed mac and cheese to the curb for good.
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