Join Molly Baz in the Bon Appétit Test Kitchen as she makes adult macaroni & cheese! It’s just about as easy as opening one of those little boxes of shells and powdered sauce—and a whole lot more delicious. Our super-quick stovetop mac and cheese borrows from the method for a classic cacio e pepe pasta, but with a bit of milk to make it extra creamy. No béchamel, no baking, just pure dairy-on-carbs joy.
ABOUT BON APPÉTIT
Cook with confidence using Bon Appetit’s kitchen tips, recipes, videos, and restaurant guides. Stay current on the latest food trends, dining destinations, and hosting ideas.
Molly Makes Macaroni and Cheese | From the Test Kitchen | Bon Appétit
That looks good how beautiful I bumped up the saturation a little bit hot tip this is adult mac and cheese which is I suppose my answer to the famed Annie’s box mac and cheese which I have a lot of respect for but there are times when it’s not appropriate to make Annie’s mac and cheese or I would encourage you to do something that’s almost as simple and infinitely more delicious so this is a one pot pasta dish I’m using shells you could use any kind of small pasta shape or a long noodle as well the method all happens in one pot it starts with butter there is black pepper there’s a little bit of milk a lot of parm and then pasta water and that’s how it all comes together so this recipe uses parmigiano-reggiano you could actually use any cheese that you want it’s kind of a riffle a mac and cheese recipe and but I like the flavor of aged parm and I think that this is a little step up in the world from that packet of dehydrated milk powder and cheese that you find in your box I’m gonna measure out five ounces of parm here and then grade it in this blender which is a really easy way to very quickly grate a big piece of cheese it doesn’t work as well for softer cheese’s but things like parm or pecorino go in the blender and come out grated in just a second so blend on high it was literally it would take quite a while to grate this much she used with the microplane and you want a finely grated Parmesan cheese in this case because you want it to all melt evenly into the mac and cheese so you don’t want to use the coarse holes of your box grater so either by pregrated cheese or throw it in your blender could you use a food processor you could use a food processor the little beads would be a little bit larger but they would work just as well I like the texture of the finely grated blender cheese but you could use a food processor ok so then one strip of butter which I will cut into 8 pieces 8 tablespoons this is because you want to be able to add the butter gradually and not all at once so that it emulsifies into a nice creamy sauce but we’ll see that in a second it’s cold butter not room temperature and then let’s grate some black pepper if you don’t already own a unicorn which is this and I highly recommend it the best pepper grinder on the market so if 2 teaspoons of black pepper is a lot but that’s what gives this dish a little bit more interesting flavor it’s sort of similar to a cacio e pepe but there is no pecorino in this dish only parmigiano and there’s the addition of milk so we’re not going at cacio e pepe we’re calling it a don’t mac and cheese see where we’re at one if you haven’t learned how to grind pepper by this time in your life this is a good time to start alright 2 teaspoons black pepper and then one pound of shells I think we’re ready to head over to the stove first things first three large handfuls of salt into our pasta water when I say large I mean large a lot of that salt is going to be left behind in the water so don’t freak out this all comes together really quickly but if you drop your pasta and cook it too al dente which for these this size of shell which i think is a 50 this is shell number 50 of DeCicco these take 11 minutes to cook and that’s plenty of time to assemble the sauce so I’m going to drop and then we’ll come back over here for the rest so one pound of shell is going in I’m just gonna give it a stir so none of them stick together and then I’ll set a timer for let’s say 10 minutes because we want to start checking we want to make sure that doesn’t get overcooked something is interesting about this recipe is the way that the pepper is incorporated into the sauce I’m going to add two of my eight tablespoons of butter to this Dutch oven and melt it instead of just adding this buff pepper after I cooked the mac and cheese I’m gonna balloon this black pepper in melted butter for a couple of minutes and that’s gonna really intensify and bring out the flavor of it we’re not looking for browned butter here just melted butter that’s hot enough to bloom these spices all right off pepper going it you’ll see that immediately it starts to turn darker and you’re seeing a little bit of sizzling that’s what you’re looking for how long are you cooking this for I can’t remember oh this is a minute okay okay one cup of whole milk goes in right here to stop the butter from browning and then this is the liquid into which you’re going to emulsify the last six tablespoons of butter and that’ll create the base for your sauce so we’ve got milky buttery goodness in here we will bring this to a simmer see that the milk has just begun to simmer this is when we start adding our butter one piece at a time and stirring stirring stirring until all the butter has been incorporated until we add the next piece this is how you get a thick creamy sauce versus a broken oily one a broken butter sauce is one where the butter has not emulsified with the liquid that you are adding it to and so it’ll look yellow and oily and it will have a different mouthfeel that’s not as pleasant all right one down here goes the next okay last piece we’re getting thick it looks nice and creamy we have emulsified and our pasta is almost done okay so if this part of the sauce is ready before the pasta just turn it off and put a lid on to keep it warm LoZ my lid this will do I’m gonna check on these shells country use a couple more minutes to be honest this isn’t really your moment for a super aldente pasta it’s mac and cheese they can be a little overcooked so before we drained the pasta it’s important to reserve some of that pasta cooking water which is also known as liquid gold so I have about two cups here that I’m gonna reserve and that’s going to help create our sauce it is magical starchy pasta water is magical liquid gold you’re throwing away one of the most important ingredients in this recipe if you strain this pasta and forget about it the pasta is ready as it turns out and I’m going to add it now to our butter sauce straight out of here and then over medium heat we’re gonna stir stir stir to coat all of the shelves so we’re we’re simmering again over here I’m starting to coat all of the shows in this buttery milky peppery stuff and then I’m gonna work in batches here adding harm and pasta water alternating between the two until the sauce is really glossy and saucy and cheesy encoded we’ll just keep an eye on things so a couple handfuls of parm important to keep it just simmering as you do this and that’ll help melt the cheese you don’t really want it boiling because it can get tough and stringy okay I’ll add a little water to thin it out Oh baby this looks good more water you don’t have to use all the pasta water but better safe than sorry so it’s good to get yourself two cups of it okay so we’re starting to get a really nice creamy sauce in there I think it needs more parm and it’s not quite thick enough so I’m gonna keep adding you could totally do this with other cheese I think actually a lot of readers who have been making it have been swapping in different cheese besides parm or you could mix a couple of different cheeses the method should work either way so it’s pretty rough a ball all right that’s the end of the cheese we are looking good pretty nice see that burbling sauce I mean it looks like Bob’s mac and cheese tastes like it no so I haven’t added any salt to this but the pasta water was seasoned and the palm is pretty salty so I’m gonna give it a taste before I add any more it only needs a tiny bit one more Bowl should we have a pasta party Friday guys okay Emily and Chris are gonna come over and give me your thoughts look at her glossy like Gloucester’s Teigen picture sun’s out guns out they should make it don’t mac and cheese air fresheners oh that’s just whose smell like I don’t like there you go this is 100% parm yes I know you don’t like daiquiri now I feel like you like it in small quantities if this were all pecorino you’d be just does that thing where you get that like wooly hards hackery no mouth I hate a woolly mouth yes not only is it a dolt but there’s no bechamel involved here so you don’t have to worry about a flower Roux milk sick and sauce and then it’s never going into the oven so we’re not waiting 45 minutes for it to get hot and bubbly it’s all happening in 15 minutes on the stovetop so you’d be just as well off eating this in your jammies in bed as you would be serving this fair crowd our craft singles and acceptable Kraft singles yeah I’m gonna say you do you in this case it’s your huge on Kraft singles chop them up and throw them in.