How to make Southern homestyle mac and cheese

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Homestyle mac and cheese is almost intimate, isn’t it? Something about a cheesy plate of pasta is forever tied up in warm, happy memories of childhood and family. Dare I say it’s the comfort food to end all comfort food? So, if you’re looking to impress a significant other, start a new family tradition or stop heartache in its tracks, look no further.
Of course, it wouldn't be comforting (or homestyle, if we're talking about modern-day homes) if it required lots of complicated steps, would it? Luckily this recipe is so easy and so delicious, you may find yourself breaking it out every week (the Monday blues are a real thing!). There’s no pre-boiling the pasta, no béchamel to blend – just creamy, cheesy perfection under a crispy crust. Please, mac responsibly.
Cooktop Cove
Southern homestyle mac and cheese
15 minutes
70 minutes
85 minutes
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 cup full-fat cottage cheese
2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon Cajun spice
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 pinch nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1/2 pound smoked cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 pound Monterey jack cheese, grated, divided
1/4 pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated, divided
1/2 pound elbow pasta, uncooked
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F and place the baking rack in the second-highest slot (this will help with that crispy crust).
Use one of the tablespoons of butter to thoroughly grease a 9-inch (round or square) baking dish or casserole dish.
Whisk (or use a blender or food processor) to combine the cottage cheese and spices.
Slowly add the milk, whisking continuously (or adding a bit and then blending) to keep the mixture smooth.
In a large bowl, combine all of the grated cheeses.
Add the milk mixture and uncooked pasta to the remaining grated cheese and stir well.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and cover with foil (sealing the edges as tightly as possible)
Place the pan into the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
While the pasta is baking, chop up the remaining tablespoon of butter into tiny little bits about the size of Tic Tacs and set aside.
Combine remanding cheeses and set aside.
Remove the pan from the oven and uncover it. Give the pasta a quick stir.
Sprinkle with an even layer of the remaining grated cheese and the butter bits.
Return the pan to the oven and bake, uncovered, for 30 to 35 more minutes (depending on how crispy you like the cheesy crust).
Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool on a heat-proof surface for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
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