Back when I made the Caprese Mac (week 2, so long ago!!!) I mentioned that mozzarella was always my favorite cheese growing up. While I have expanded my cheese palate considerably, I still gravitate to mozzarella much of the time. Especially the fresh type stored in water (and burrata, OMG) and especially combined with tomato and basil and balsamic vinegar. And what would pizza be without the ooey-gooey strings of melted mozzarella? (Not very good, that’s what it would be!)
But you don’t see it used in mac & cheese on its own very often – just as part of a combo with other, stronger cheeses. I was curious how it would be without any “supporting” players. Well, other than a dab of mustard, I knew it would need a little kick of SOME kind.
- 4 ounces shell pasta
- 3 Tbsp. butter
- 3 Tbsp. flour
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella (see notes)
- 1-2 Tbsp. specialty mustard (optional) (see notes)
- Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta for 13-15 minutes. Shells are often a little thicker than other macaroni products, so unless you like them VERY al dente (i.e. chewy) go for the longer end of the range. Drain and rinse with cold water.
- Warm the milk until just at the edge of boiling
- Melt butter over medium heat and stir in flour. Whisk continually for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the warmed milk and whisk until a thick silky sauce forms.
- Add mustard if using.
- Add the cheese and stir until completely melted.
- Add the pasta and stir to coat completely.
- Sprinkle individual servings with grated Parmesan if desired.
It’s kind of blah looking (all the ingredients are nearly the same color) but it came out REALLY GOOD. If I’m being honest, it’s a lot better than I expected it to be. The mustard definitely puts it over the top. It isn’t fancy – but it is satisfyingly cheesy and gooey and tangy, and it comes together quickly. This would be perfect if you need a side dish on a weeknight.
- I’ve mentioned this before but it bears repeating. Fresh mozzarella is not a good option here. It’s watery and doesn’t melt well. For mac and cheese, stick with the low-moisture part-skim version.
- I can’t resist a flavored mustard at the local holiday bazaars. We have a local company called AJ’s Edible Arts that makes fantastic mustards, as well as dip mixes and BBQ sauces. I grabbed an unopened jar at random off my pantry shelf – this is the Walla Walla Sweet Onion Mustard with Garlic. A whole bunch of my favorite things!
Posted August 18, 2020