In August 2011, I had just transferred from NYU to the University of Michigan. On one of my first nights in Ann Arbor, I found myself pregaming at a men’s rowing house with my girlfriends.
At one point I was introduced to a group of guys, and was intrigued by the tall, quiet blonde with a gorgeous smile. We didn’t talk much, but I made a mental note to remember his name. We all went out that night, probably to Charley’s/Skeeps/Rick’s. Around 2am, we ended up back at this rowing house, only this time in the attic apartment where the tall blonde lived.
I remember a warm glow on my face, music blasting, and above it muffled sounds of those type of loud conversations that only happen past midnight, and when at least three drinks are involved.
One of the guys said he was starving, and wanted to make food. Being, well, me, I said “I’ll make it!”
“Are you sure?” said the tall blonde. “Yeah! What do you have?” I said. “Umm… pasta?” “Let me look.”
I found a box of penne on the shelf, and tons of cheese in the fridge. Jackpot. Homemade stovetop mac and cheese.
The tall blonde helped me to find my way around his tiny galley kitchen. I could tell right away he was one of the kindest people I had ever met. There was something about him that made me feel instantly at ease.
I boiled the pasta. I made a roux. I grated the cheese.
When it was time to serve, I made the tall blonde try it first.
“What do you think?” I asked him?
He took a bite and smiled.
“Will you marry me?” he asked.
I laughed. “Yes!” I said. He hugged me, lifting me off the ground with ease.
“Oh, here!” I said, taking off my Tiffany’s heart ring that I never took off. I placed it on his pinky. It didn’t fit past the second knuckle, but he wore it anyways. We both chuckled.
The rest of the night, we joked about our marriage. “Have you heard?” we’d tell people, and he’d show them the ring.
That tall blonde, of course, was Alex. And seven years later to the week, he proposed to me for real.
So in honor of our love story, I’m bringing you all the stovetop mac and cheese recipe that got me that first proposal. And in my obviously biased opinion, it’s pretty darn fantastic.
This easy mac and cheese recipe is made with three types of cheese, all chosen to complement each other. The cheddar gives the homemade mac and cheese that delicious bite, and guides the overall flavor profile. The Parmesan gives the cheese a beautiful sharp nuttiness. And the Deli American slices? Well, they’re my secret weapon.
I’ve found over the years that creamy mac and cheese is my favorite, and using Deli American creates the most velvety, luxurious sauce for the mac. I used Land O Lakes® Deli American slices, and they are just perfect in this recipe!
And as for my now fiancé, he thinks this recipe stands up to the mac I made him on that first night 🙂
In a large pot over high heat, boil enough water to cook the entire box of pasta. Add in pasta and cook the pasta until just barely al dente, about 6 minutes. It will be very undercooked, but you’re going to continue to cook it in the sauce later. Drain and set aside while you make your cheese sauce.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Once melted, sprinkle in the flour, then stir to combine with the butter. Allow to cook for 1 minute, then add in the milk, worcestershire sauce, salt, and Dijon mustard. Cook, whisking occasionally, until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 3 minutes.
While the sauce is cooking, grate your cheddar cheese and parmigiano reggiano, and cut your Deli American slices into pieces. Once the sauce has thickened, stir in cheese. Add in orecchiette, mixing it fully into the sauce. It will seem like there is a lot of cheese sauce, but it will thicken up in the next step.
Turn the stove to medium low heat, and cook, stirring constantly, for 5-7 minutes. You’re looking for the pasta to slightly sop up some of the cheese sauce, and for the entire sauce to get thick. You will know it’s done when you stir and the sauce sticks to the pasta, so you are able to see the bottom of the pan.
Remove from heat and serve immediately. Garnish with black pepper, if you’d like.
This post is sponsored by Land O’Lakes and The Feedfeed. All text and opinions are 100% my own. Thank you for continuing to support the brands who help make Broma possible!