Macaroni and cheese and I have a very long history together, so let me give you a short summary.
When I was growing up I LOVED the boxed stuff. So much so that as a little kid, when my grandmother made homemade macaroni and cheese for me, I was disappointed that it was not the box stuff. When I got older, boxed macaroni and cheese was something I would make for myself if, say, the rest of my family was at my brothers’ baseball game and I hadn’t wanted to go.
Fast forward to college, where I started noticing this certain type of macaroni and cheese in all kinds of restaurants. It was creamy and cheesy, but with a texture I couldn’t quite pinpoint. I can tell you now that it is custard-like, because I know what goes into it, but at the time I couldn’t figure it out. I loved this macaroni and cheese though.
And because I was in college and had yet to actually learn about cooking, I thought that perhaps the macaroni and cheese was like this because it was homemade. So I made some homemade macaroni and cheese. I made a bechemel sauce and melted cheese into it and poured it over macaroni and baked it in the oven, and it came out like any old macaroni and cheese. Good, but not what I had been hoping for.
I made macaroni and cheese a couple of times after that, but for the most part I gave up. The macaroni and cheese that I love must be some kind of secret, because none of the google searches I did for various macaroni and cheese recipes led me to anything special.
Then, a couple of months ago I was thinking about macaroni and cheese again, particularly how it relates to Southern cuisine, and for some reason I thought to type “southern macaroni and cheese” in the search bar.
And lo and behold, there it was. The secret to making the macaroni and cheese that I love. Eggs.
(And I felt completely not worth my weight as a food blogger and self-professed super taster for not being able to figure that one out.)
But that was it. Eggs. Eggs are what gives the cheese sauce a custard-like texture. (And if I say curdled will it turn you off? But it is…the texture is like delicious creamy cheese curdles and I don’t know a better way to describe it. But hey, we’ve already learned this year that dairy curdles as part of your meal can be absolutely wonderful.)
I’ve tried over the past couple of months to get this recipe exactly how I wanted it. You have to have the perfect sauce to egg to cheese to noodle ratio. It took me awhile, but I think I’ve finally found it. And I’m so glad I can share it with you.