Healthier Southern-Style Mac and Cheese • The Hate U Give

“It’s like the easiest, quickest meal ever though,” Chris says. “One box, and you’re –“

“And that’s the problem,” I say. “Real macaroni and cheese doesn’t come from a box, babe. It eventually comes from an oven with a crust bubbling on top.”

“Amen,” Seven holds his fist to me, and I bump it.

“Ohhh,” Chris says, “You mean the kind with breadcrumbs?”

“What?” DeVante yells, and Seven goes, “Breadcrumbs?”

“Nah,” I say. “I mean there’s a crust of cheese on top. We gotta get you to a soul food restaurant, babe.”

“This fool said breadcrumbs.” DeVante sounds seriously offended. “Breadcrumbs.”

Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give

Until I read The Hate U Give, I didn’t know that there were differences between mac and cheese in black and white culture. Being from Southeast Asia, mac and cheese wasn’t—isn’t— even something I eat often. To me, there was only the normal easy-to-make-without-an-oven instant mac and cheese and the restaurant-style baked kind. (Back then, we didn’t have an oven so eating the baked version was a novelty.)

But I’ve always preferred baked mac and cheese. And this homemade version trumps every boxed mix. 

The Ingredients

Per the above quote, this mac and cheese recipe does not have breadcrumbs. Instead, it has a crunchy cheesy top. 

There are five kinds of cheeses in this recipe: Gruyere, gouda and cheddar in the creamy cheese sauce, and parmesan, mozzarella and more cheddar to form the crunchy but stretchy cheese crust. 

The Method

Cooking this mac and cheese is simple enough: cook the pasta as you will for a normal meal and stir the three cheeses, flour and milk together to form a creamy sauce. I also opted to use some pasta water to cut down on the milk and flour added. However, if you prefer, you could replace the pasta water with some milk and flour.
If doing so, I would advise stirring the cheeses and milk together first before adding flour to your desired consistency. 

For celebrating Thanksgiving in true Southern style, serve this alongside other traditional favourites like turkey, sweet potatoes and gravy.

Or you could just eat this at any other time, with a generous slice of chocolate cake or red velvet cake for dessert. 

And that’s about it, really. This is a recipe easy enough to rival any boxed mix. Sure, assembling all the ingredients (especially the cheeses) might be a bit of a pain, but the end more than justifies the means here. 

Healthier Southern-Style Mac and Cheese
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 

Between its creamy cheese sauce and golden-brown crunchy cheese topping, you’ll never guess that this mac and cheese is lower in fat than most recipes.  

Servings: 4 people
Ingredients
  • 100 g elbow-shaped pasta (or any other shape that you prefer)
  • 25 g Gruyere cheese
  • 25 g Gouda cheese
  • 25 g cheddar
  • 125 ml low-fat milk
  • 50 g whole wheat flour
  • blend of shredded Parmesan, mozzarella and cheddar (to taste)
  • dried Italian herbs (optional, to taste)
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 200℃.

  2. In a small saucepan, cook pasta according to package directions until just before al dente. 

  3. Pour 62.5 ml (1/4 cup) of pasta water (i.e. water used to cook the pasta) into a saucepan. Add the Gruyere, Gouda, cheddar, milk and flour and cook on low heat, whisking until the mixture is smooth and creamy. 

  4. Remove the saucepan from the heat and pour the pasta into the saucepan. Mix until all the pasta is coated evenly with the cheese sauce. 

  5. Pour the pasta into four ramekins, or a larger dish. Top with as much shredded Parmesan, mozzarella and cheddar as you like. I use Perfect Italiano’s Pizza Plus blend. 

  6. Bake for 15 min until a golden brown cheese crust forms at the top. 

  7. Serve immediately. If desired, sprinkle some dried Italian herbs on the top of the cheese crust. 

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