Who’s ready for comfort food season? Some foods just say relax slow down and enjoy the comfort. When the days get a little shorter and the temps are cool enough to curl up with a bulky sweater and a blanket we reach for foods that bring the idea of comfort.
Your choice in comfort foods may tell a bit about where you grew up. In the south it may be shrimp and grits or perhaps gumbo and jambalaya. Texas maybe chicken fried steak and in the midwest an assortment of casseroles and mac and cheese.
We typically crave dishes we knew in our youth, dishes made with love by someone we loved. When life gets difficult sometimes a treat of comfort food just does the trick. Knowing how to self nurture is a great skill. As long as you have many ways to make yourself feel better. Too much of one good thing just isn’t healthy. Most of our favorite comfort foods are high in fat, sugar and calories. Allowing ourselves to enjoy these treats in moderation is perfectly fine.
That said when you see the ingredients in this dish you might realize why moderation is important. When I actually layed it all out to photograph I thought ohhhhh now I see why it tastes sooooo good!
This Skillet Macaroni and Cheese will give you the warm gooey rich taste of comfort but won’t hold you up too long in the kitchen. It’s easy to throw together unlike other Mac and cheese recipes that require creating a béchamel sauce.
I grew up in the 70’s when Velveeta cheese was ever so popular. Today, I have to admit, I’ve become a bit of a food snob preferring less processed natural foods. However, some recipes are worth adding those old standards because nothing else will give you the same flavor and texture.
I found these sweet individual serving size cast iron skillets on Amazon. I use them to make single serving mac-n-cheese. Simply adjust the time, when baking, check at 10 minutes.
Skillet Macaroni and Cheese
For the Topping:
- 5 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 3 ounces Muenster cheese, shredded
- 2/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon Cholula or Franks hot sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- additional 3 Tbs Butter
For the mac and cheese:
- 1 1-lb. package elbow macaroni
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 8 ounce Muenster cheese, shredded
- 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 8 ounces sliced Velveeta (don’t substitute, trust me)
- 2 coups half-and-half
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Set your grill up so you can cook on indirect heat, and shoot for a temperature of 350 degrees. Or preheat your oven to 350°
- Have a 10 or 12 inch buttered cast iron skillet waiting. (or use cooking spray)
- Set a pot of salted water on to boil for cooking the pasta.
- Combine the first 6 topping ingredients (all except panko crumbs and 3 Tbs butter) in a medium bowl and set aside.
- sauté the Pankp crumbs in 3 Tbs butter until lightly golden. Set aside.
- When the water is boiling add the pasta. Cook until al dente. Turn the heat off, drain the pasta, and return the pasta to the pot. Add the butter and stir until the butter is melted.
- Add the cheeses and stir until the cheese is melted. If the cheese isn’t melting, turn the heat on to gently re-warm the pasta and melt the cheese. Add the half-and-half and salt and stir to combine.
- Pour all the cheesy mac into the buttered cast iron skillet.
- Dollop the topping on, spread it as evenly as you can using an off set spatula.
- Sprinkle the sauteed panko crumbs over the top.
- Put the skillet on the grill over the indirect heat or in your oven and cook until the cheese is bubbling and the topping is as browned as you like. I pulled it off when it was spotty brown. Aproximately 25-30 minutes.
- Serve imediately.
Below you can see that you start with the mac and cheese then add in the topping then once it’s spread evenly top with the sauteed pink crumbs.
About the Author
Photographer Sally Roeckell specializes in contemporary lifestyle portraiture with an emphasis on food photography. Her Blog, Table and Dish is a website devoted to celebrating and curating the many ways that food binds us. Sally hopes that her recipes and images will inspire you to gather your friends and family in the kitchen to make memories, use the time to connect with busy kids, chat over mixing bowls, get messy, laugh, sing, set the table, clear the table, pass the salt, debate the days topics and pray. You can follow her here as a weekly contributor to 365Barrington and Heinen’s as well as via Table and Dish on Instagram and on her website at TableAndDish.com.
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