My love for mac and cheese pretty much knows no bounds. I'm always eager to try a new variation or recipe, nevermind that I have several favorites already in my repertoire. I try to limit myself to only making mac and cheese once every other week instead of the three times per week that I would like. Ah, sacrifices.
This version is great for several reasons: it only dirties one pan, is very easy, and it already has a veggie in it - no need to prep another side. And of course it goes without saying that it's delicious. Obviously it's still not the healthiest dish, but if you're eating mac and cheese, you're clearly not going for light anyway. This mac and cheese uses sharp cheddar for super cheesy flavor, and Monterey Jack for creaminess. The hot sauce and cayenne give it just enough spice without being overpowering, and the garlic and dry mustard give the whole dish even more flavor.
When I was in college and would make velveeta shells and cheese, I tricked myself into thinking I was being health-concious by buying the broccoli and cheese flavor - somehow I felt pretty good about myself for eating the broccoli. Who cared that it was just tiny dehydrated broccoli crumbs? This version actually has real broccoli in it. Who knew you could feel so healthy eating mac and cheese? ;)
Skillet Macaroni and Cheese with Broccoli
adapted from America's Test Kitchen, Pasta Revolution
- 4 cups water, plus more as needed
- 10-12 oz broccoli florets, cut into bite-sized pieces
- salt and pepper
- 3 Tbs unsalted butter
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 (12-oz) can evaporated milk
- 12 oz pasta
- 3/4 tsp cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp dry mustard
- 1/4 tsp hot sauce
- 6 oz extra sharp white cheddar, shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 6 oz Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)
Wipe out the skillet and melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the garlic and pepper flakes and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the remaining 3 1/2 cups of water, 1 cup of the milk, 1/2 tsp salt, and the pasta. Bring to a fast simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta is tender and the sauce has started to thicken, 9 to 12 minutes.
Whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup of evaporated milk, cornstarch, mustard, and hotsauce. Stir into the skillet, and continue to simmer for 2-3 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
Off the heat, stir in the cheddar and Monterey Jack, one handful at a time, until melted. If the sauce seems too thick, add a few tablespoons of extra water. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, broccoli and season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow to sit 5 to 10 minutes to thicken before serving.