Southern Baked Mac and Cheese

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Southern Baked Mac and Cheese is not just a dish; it’s a cultural icon wrapped in creamy, cheesy goodness. This blog post delves into the heart of this beloved Southern staple, exploring its deep roots and how to master its creation.

Why is Southern Baked Mac and Cheese Considered Soul Food?

Southern Baked Mac and Cheese, often termed ‘soul food mac and cheese’, is a staple in Southern cuisine and African American households. Its rich, creamy, and gooey nature makes it the ultimate comfort food, cherished for generations and reserved for special occasions. Steeped in history, it’s a dish that tells a story, connecting the present to a past where Thomas Jefferson’s chef, James Hemings, crafted the original macaroni pie, a precursor to today’s beloved recipe​​.

What Makes This Mac and Cheese Recipe Unique?

The uniqueness lies in its simplicity and authenticity. Eschewing complex techniques like roux or béchamel, it relies on a straightforward ‘dump and bake’ method. The focus is on real ingredients: a variety of cheeses, heavy cream, and carefully chosen spices blend to create a luxuriously creamy dish, miles apart from its boxed or clumpy counterparts​​.

How Did Southern Baked Mac and Cheese Evolve Over Time?

The evolution of this dish is a tale of culinary artistry under duress. Originating from Chef Hemings’ ‘pie made of macaroni’, it became a prestige symbol among wealthy Southerners. Through the centuries, enslaved cooks passed down the recipe, adapting it to their tastes and resources, turning it into a dish emblematic of resilience and creativity​​.

What Ingredients are Essential for Authentic Southern Baked Mac and Cheese?

The soul of this recipe lies in its ingredients. Each component, from the sharp cheddar to the creamy American cheese and the mix of heavy cream and half-and-half, is chosen for its contribution to texture and taste. The blend of garlic powder, onion powder, mustard powder, and smoked paprika adds depth to the flavor profile​​​​.

How Do You Perfectly Prepare Southern Baked Mac and Cheese?

The key to perfecting this dish is in its preparation. It begins with cooking the pasta in chicken broth for added flavor, followed by a careful blend of cheeses, creams, and spices. The mixture is then baked to achieve the iconic crispy, browned cheese crust. Remember, it’s not just about following a recipe; it’s about infusing the dish with love and soul​​.

Embarking on this culinary journey through Southern Baked Mac and Cheese reveals not just the steps to create a mouth-watering dish but also uncovers a rich tapestry of history, culture, and communal pride. It’s more than a recipe; it’s a celebration of heritage and flavor.

Southern Baked Mac and Cheese

Savor the richness of Southern Baked Mac and Cheese, a classic soul food favorite that embodies comfort in every bite. This recipe is a heartfelt tribute to Southern culinary traditions, offering a creamy and cheesy delight that’s perfect for any occasion.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Mac and Cheese
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • Elbow Macaroni: 500g 16 oz
  • Chicken Broth: 6 cups
  • Shredded Sharp Cheddar: 225g 8 oz
  • Shredded Colby Jack: 225g 8 oz
  • Shredded Mozzarella part-skim: 225g (8 oz)
  • Cubed American Cheese: 225g 8 oz
  • Room Temperature Cream Cheese: 125g 4 oz
  • Half and Half Cream: 250ml 1 cup
  • Heavy Cream: 250ml 1 cup
  • Kosher Salt and Black Pepper: To taste
  • Smoked Paprika: 4g 1/2 tsp
  • Garlic Powder: 3g 1-2 tsp
  • Onion Powder: 3g 1 tsp
  • Mustard Powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Eggs large: 2

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C) and butter a baking dish (either 8×11 or 9×13 inches).
  • Cook the elbow macaroni in boiling chicken broth until slightly less than al dente. Drain well.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the half and half, heavy cream, half of each cheese (cheddar and Colby Jack), and all of the mozzarella, American, and cream cheeses.
  • Season with smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, mustard powder, salt, and pepper, adjusting to taste.
  • Stir in the undercooked macaroni and eggs, ensuring even distribution.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared dish, topping with the remaining cheddar and Colby Jack.
  • Bake for 35 minutes, watching for a bubbly and golden-brown cheese crust.
  • Allow to cool briefly before serving, ensuring optimal creaminess.

Notes

  • Substitute half and half with evaporated milk if needed.
  • Explore different cheese combinations, avoiding hard cheeses for best melting quality.
  • For extra creaminess, add more cream cheese.

This Southern Baked Mac and Cheese recipe is not just a dish; it’s a comforting embrace of traditional flavors and textures, sure to be a hit at any gathering.

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