Make Ahead Macaroni and Cheese is a creamy, comforting macaroni and cheese recipe with a crunchy topping. The recipe is scaled to provide two meals—one for now, and one to freeze for later.
As y’all know, things can get pretty hectic here in the Comfortably Domestic house. Between school, sports, church, and other activities, thoughts of dinner can sometimes fall by the wayside until the last minute. Having a few “slam dunk” meals ready in the freezer makes what can be a hectic transition from school to activities to dinner much less likely to end with take out pizza or cereal for dinner…again.
Come on, fess up! I know I’m not the only one to hang my head in defeat as I drop boxes of cereal on the table because the day got away from me, and I no longer have the time nor inclination to cook a proper dinner because everyone is hungry right now.
Macaroni and cheese is always a “slam dunk” favorite in our house. While there are several macaroni and cheese recipes here on the blog, this particular recipe is special because it can either feed a crowd or feed a family of six at least twice. I like the peace of mind that comes with having a little back up in the freezer for a busy night in the future. The recipe is also great for toting warm to pot lucks or blessing a family in need with a meal.
When I cook, I’m a mise en place kind of gal. I like to get all of my ingredients measured and ready to go before I begin cooking. That way, I’m less likely to forget a vital ingredient when I get interrupted for the eleventy-billionth time to hunt down a “super rare” Lego piece or hear yet another Minecraft saga…ad nauseum.
Again, I can’t be the only one living this truth.
Once I mention that I’m fixing Make Ahead Macaroni and Cheese to my boys, they skedaddle and let me get to getting. All I do is cook the macaroni according to package directions for an al dente texture and drain it in a large colander. Then, preheat the oven to 350°F, and butter two 9 x 13″ baking dishes.
Prepare the sauce by melting the butter in a large saucepan set over medium heat until it begins to froth and sizzle. Sauté the garlic briefly before sprinkling the dry ingredients over the foaming butter. Cook and stir the mixture continuously until it becomes smooth and nearly paste-like in texture. The sauce will be thick, y’all!
Remove one half cup of the thickened sauce (a.k.a. roux) from the pan. Slowly stir it into the beaten eggs to temper them. Tempering the eggs now will prevent the eggs becoming scrambled in the cheese sauce later. While scrambled eggs are tasty, they have no business in a cheese sauce.
Pour in the milk and continue to cook the sauce base while whisking it smooth. The roux is done when it thickens to the point that it will coat a spoon. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the cheese until it melts and incorporated into the sauce. Fold the cooked macaroni into the cheese sauce to thoroughly coat. Divide the macaroni and cheese evenly between the prepared baking pans.
Pour melted butter over breadcrumbs and add a little more cheese. Toss the breadcrumb mixture until it begins to look all buttery and awesome and clumps together.
Divide the topping in half, and then sprinkle it evenly over each pan. Upon applying the topping, the pasta can either be:
- baked to serve immediately, or
- allowed to cool completely, covered with heavy duty foil, and then popped in the freezer to finish baking another time.
Make Ahead Macaroni and Cheese is a comforting recipe that makes enough for multiple meals or to share with others. If you’re like me and want to be prepared for a future dinner emergency, use these nifty disposable pans with aluminum lids for the Make Ahead Macaroni and Cheese. The pans easily stack and save space in the freezer. The pans also transport well enough without spilling that it’s easy to share dinner with friends or to tote them along to pot lucks. In fact, my friends all know that if they wash the pan and lid and give it back to me to use again, I’ll likely fill it with something tasty like apple cinnamon rolls to give them in the future. It’s a win-win proposition.
Make Ahead Macaroni and Cheese is both dinner tonight and another in the future!