How to Make Gourmet Mac & Cheese Like a Pro

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How to Make Mac & Cheese Like a Gourmet Chef

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Cups of Macaroni and Cheese combined with Lobster Meat, Tomatoes and Parsley

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    Stock up on pasta and pick up some cheese. Things are about to get real.

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    1. Sliced, Cubed, and Block Cheese in Assorted Colors

      Select your cheese

      The trick is to use quality ingredients. For 8 ounces of pasta (about 4 servings), you'll need 8 ounces of shredded, crumbled, or cubed cheese. Talk with your Hy-Vee cheese specialist; sample different varieties; and put together your own signature combination.

      Need some ideas? Consider different varieties and flavors of Cheddar, Fontina, Gouda, Havarti, and Swiss—they all melt great. Also try pairing smoked cheeses with mild-tasting varieties for balance and flavor. And if at all possible, try to avoid using fat-free cheeses since they just don’t melt as well.

    2. platter of different pasta shapes

      Choose and prepare pasta. 

      Oh the pastabilities! Besides macaroni, there are a handful of other pastas that hold cheese sauce well. Gemelli, wheels, shells, fusilli, and pipette rigate are all excellent choices. Look for whole-wheat versions if you’re trying to increase your fiber. You will need 8 ounces of pasta to serve four. Prepare according to package directions, drain, and set aside.

    3. Get your mix-ins ready.

      This is your chance to show off your culinary creativity by developing unique flavor combos (goat cheese and arugula, curry and peas, olives and fresh mint). You'll want to have your mix-ins and seasonings ready before you make the sauce (step 4). That way you can add them when needed. Check out the recipe below for ideas.

    4. Make your sauce.

      To make a cheese sauce, you will need 2 cups of warm milk, a roux, and your cheese (remember, this is for 8 ounces of pasta). A roux is simply a mixture of fat and flour—in this case, butter and flour. Gently warm the milk on the stovetop or in the microwave. Meanwhile, start your roux: In a saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter over low heat. Gradually whisk in 4 tablespoons of flour, whisking until thick, bubbly and pale yellow. Add the warm milk and stir frequently until thickened. Add your cheese and stir until melted. Remove from heat, add your seasonings, cooked pasta, and selected mix-ins (from step 3). Top with toasted bread crumbs or crushed flavored croutons, if you're so inclined.