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Knock knock knock.
Ladies and gentleman, I have made quite a reputation for myself…
…for making the best mac and cheese. Ha, you dirty skank, you thought I was talking about something else.
When I was playing Link Larkin in Hairspray, occasionally the “Motormouth Gang” would have functions or events without the “Nicest Kids in Town.” It was not some kind of slight or oversight, it was simply that particular group of friends having a hang. However, on one occasion, I, Austin Miller Link Larkin, was granted an invitation to hang at a potluck situation with the Motormouth kids. Here’s what I’m going to tell you as a sweeping racial generalization: black people know how to cook.
I knew immediately what I was taking. Two pans of mac and cheese. I had mastered mac and cheese, and this was going to be an opportunity to prove myself.
To this day, in New York City, other people in the Broadway community ask me about my mac and cheese. It’s not that hard. I pray it’s not a technique / instinct thing.
Here’s what you need:
- 2 cups half and half
- 2 cups milk
- 5 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 1 teaspoon season salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (or white pepper if you don’t want to see it)
- 1/8 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon finely grated white onion
- 20 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese**, divided & grated
- 1-16 ounce package elbow macaroni, cooked to package instructions
**A delicious option is 12 ounces extra sharp cheddar and 8 ounces Gruyere cheese. Up the nutmeg to 1/4 teaspoon.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Spray a large and deep casserole dish with cooking spray such as PAM. Combine milk and half and half in something you can pour from.
In a large saute pan, melt the butter. Sift the flour into the melted butter and whisk together at medium heat. Cook the roux. It should get bubbly and really bind. Add all the seasonings and grated onion.
Whisk in the milk and half and half a little at a time. Keep whisking. Whisk. Whisk. Do not stop. Turn the heat up a little. It should bubble. It should start to obviously thicken to the consistency of runny pancake batter. Remove from heat.
Add all but 2 cups of cheese to the pan you’ve been whisking. Stir it all together to melt the cheese. Add all the cooked macaroni. Stir to combine.
Pour into casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.
Put into the 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Depending on how hard you like your cheese topping, you may want to go another 5 minutes. Just don’t let it get too dry.
Don’t eat the whole thing or you’ll be sick!
I offered the gruyere option above and honestly that’s how I most often do it. But my sweetie Terry LaVelle Mercedes Tammy Spectra wanted the straight up recipe so that’s what this is!
All for now,