Your party will be a hit with this memorable DIY Macaroni And Cheese Bar. Photo by Carlos Andrés Varela Photography.




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February 2011

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Pasta & Pizza

Homemade Macaroni And Cheese

A Do-It-Yourself Mac & Cheese Bar Is Great Party Food

CAPSULE REPORT: Wow the crowd with a do-it-yourself Macaroni And Cheese Bar. It takes the concept of homemade macaroni and cheese to a new level: individual customization. Guests start with a bowl of basic mac and cheese and add their favorite toppings. The recipe is courtesy of innovative New York City caterer Canard Inc.


Homemade Macaroni And Cheese

Recipe yields 4 servings.

Ingredients: Mac & Cheese

  • 3/4 stick butter, unsalted
  • 1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs) or 1-1/2 cups coarse fresh
    bread crumbs (from 3 slices firm white sandwich bread)
  • 1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated (buy a wedge and grate it yourself
    rather than purchase pre-grated cheese)
  • 3-1/4 cups extra-sharp Cheddar, coarsely grated
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2-1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni

Ingredients: Mac & Cheese

Plan for one-half to one cup of each:

  • Applewood smoked bacon, crumbled; or pancetta
  • Grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese
  • Scallions, chopped
  • Tomatoes, diced
  • Diced red or orange bell peppers
  • Steamed broccoli
  • Chipotle salsa or hot sauce
  • Your choice: anything else you’d like in your mac & cheese, such as:

    Proteins: crab meat, crumbled goat cheese, chicken, pepperoni, shrimp, smoked salmon

    Veggies: fresh herbs (cilantro, oregano, parsley, sage, thyme), pimento, sautéed mushrooms, sundried tomatoes


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Melt 1/4 stick butter; stir together with bread crumbs and Parmigiano cheese in a bowl until well combined. Set aside. (This step may be prepared one day in advance and refrigerated.)
  3. Melt the remaining butter in a heavy medium-size saucepan over medium-low heat. Add flour. Stir 3 minutes, then whisk in milk.
  4. Bring mixture to a boil while whisking constantly. Simmer over low heat, whisking occasionally for 3 minutes.
  5. Stir in Cheddar cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until smooth. Remove from heat and cover surface of sauce with wax paper. Set aside.
  6. Cook macaroni in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (1 tablespoon salt for 2 quarts water) until al dente. Drain macaroni in a colander, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water.









Stir together macaroni, the reserved cooking water and the cheese sauce in a large bowl. Transfer to a buttered 2-quart shallow baking dish (we use a Pyrex covered casserole to keep the heat in on the buffet).

Sprinkle bread crumb mixture over macaroni and bake until top is golden brown and bubbling, approximately 20 to 25 minutes.

Serve warm in bowls or ramekins (or keep the batch warm on a portable induction cooktop so guests can help themselves) with assorted DIY toppings and serving spoons.

A single or double burner induction cooktop is a boon for keeping food warm at parties, as well as providing an extra burner if you need to cook. Photo courtesy Max Burton.


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