Tyler’s Ultimate Macaroni and Cheese

In my pre-kid days, when I actually was allowed to watch TV that didn’t have Muppets or animation, I used to spend my Saturday and Sunday mornings watching the Food Network.  My absolute most favorite shows were from Nigella Lawson (I love Nigella), Tyler Florence, Ina Garten, and Anne Burrell.  I’ve made recipes from each of them and they’ve all come out ah-mazing.  I made a lot of Tyler Florence recipes because his always seemed the most approachable out of all of them.  And it was almost always comfort food that I liked and was just getting a more decadent version of. (His ultimate pot roast recipe was also really, really good.)

This macaroni and cheese recipe is beyond incredible.  I made it once for Steve in our old place and my sister made it once for us when we’d moved into the Yellow House on the Corner.  I’m not going to lie; it’s a lot of work.  There’s a lot of steps.  But you will not be disappointed by this meal.  It’s pretty incredible.  It’s not the healthiest thing you will ever eat, but as long as you don’t make it every week, I think you’ll be fine.

We’re serving this elegant mac and cheese tonight with dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets because Thomas felt like we needed protein and he picked them out himself at the grocery store.  For a green, we went with steamed broccoli.  You could eat this on its own, but it’s pretty rich.  I felt like having a vegetable sort of balanced out the rest of it.

Tyler’s Ultimate Macaroni and Cheese

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • 4 cups milk
  • 2-3 sprigs thyme
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed and divided
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 5 1/2 cups shredded sharp white cheddar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 4 slices bacon, cut crosswise into thin strips
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • leaves from 1/4 bunch of fresh thyme.

Cook macaroni to al dente (7-8) minutes in a pot of boiling salted water.  Drain.

Preheat oven to 450.

In a small sauce pan, heat the milk with the thyme sprigs and 2 garlic cloves.

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Melt the butter in a large, deep skillet (or pot of you don’t have a deep skillet) over medium high heat.  Whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly, to keep lumps from forming.

Strain the solids out of the milk and whisk it into the butter and flour mixture.  Continue to whisk vigorously and cook until the mixture is smooth.  Stir in 4 cups of the cheese and continue to stir until cheese is melted and mixture is smooth.  Season with salt and pepper.

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Add the cooked macaroni and parsley.  Stir to coat the macaroni with the cheese mixture, then pour into a three quart baking dish (I coated mine with cooking spray).  Sprinkle with the remaining 1 1/2 cups of cheese.  Bake for 30 minutes.

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(Sorry some of these are blurry. My camera has been horrible lately)

While macaroni and cheese bakes, heat a saute pan.  Add the bacon and let the fat render, cooking until crispy.  Add onion, remainder of garlic (minced), and thyme leaves and cook for about five minutes to soften the onions.  Season with salt and pepper.

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When mac and cheese comes out of the oven, scatter the onion and bacon mixture over the top of the tray (much better than breadcrumbs, if you ask me).

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About Kristin

I never thought I would love to cook. I did everything I could to avoid learning to cook. But somewhere along the line, cooking became less of a chore and more of a way to relax and be creative. Not everything I make is a smashing success, but I've had more successes than failures. After months of trading recipes with my friends through Facebook and email, I've decided to collect all my favorites here and also document my attempts at new adventures in cooking, too.
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