Macaroni and cheese (no béchamel required)

I think we can all agree that homemade macaroni and cheese is awesome. But it can be a bit of a pain (and a mess) to make. This recipe gives you the deliciousness of homemade mac and cheese, with significantly less work, less mess and less stress than a version that involves making a huge vat of cheese sauce and mixing the macaroni in it. Not that I don’t appreciate a huge vat of cheese.

cheese and butter

This version doesn’t even require grating cheese! All you have to do is cut the cheese and some butter into small squares. You don’t even have to be very precise.

elbow macaroni

You need to boil up some macaroni, because, duh.

layer1 layer2

layer3 layer4

Then you layer it up like so. I probably should have put more cheese on the bottom layer, to make it a bit more even, but it’s not a big deal. You can put as much or as little as you like (although I tend to err on the side of more). At this point, you can either cover and refrigerate it overnight, or go ahead and pour some milk in and pop it in the oven.

cheez-it topping

After it’s baked for a bit, you take it out, stir it up (which negates any uneven distribution issues you may have had earlier), add some more cheese on top… and, if you’re really crazy, crumble some Cheez-Its on there, too. Yeah, you read that right. Macaroni and cheese with Cheez-It topping. It’s a thing. And what a glorious thing it is, too.

macaroni and cheese with cheez its

Macaroni and Cheese, sans bechamel, but plus Cheez-Its. (Fills a 2 1/2 quart baking dish, serves 8-10)
8 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese
8 oz. regular cheddar cheese
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
24 oz. elbow macaroni (this is about a box and a half, but you don’t need to measure it)
Cheez It crackers

Preheat oven to 375F. Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil (you can salt the water before or after it’s boiling — up to you) and cook the macaroni until just al dente.  While the macaroni is cooking, cut the cheese and butter into small squares.

Spoon about 1/4 of the macaroni onto the bottom of a 2 1/2 quart baking dish and sprinkle about 1/4 of the butter and some squares of both cheeses on top. Add another 1/4 of the macaroni and distribute more cheese and butter on top. Continue until all the macaroni is in the dish. You should have cheese left over.

Pour milk into the bowl until it reaches about the halfway point, then stick the bowl in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes. You can use this time to crumble or crush as many Cheez Its as you’d like to use as a topping.

Remove the macaroni from the oven after 10-15 minutes and stir well, then add more cheese and plenty of crushed or crumbled Cheez Its on top. Put the bowl back in the oven and cook for 30-45 more minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and the top noodles and toppings are crispy. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes before serving.



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