We all know the old saying: “Laziness is the mother of invention.”
Or something like that. I’m too lazy to look it up.
In fact, because I’m so incredibly lazy, I’m practically a genius in the kitchen. I’ve put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into discovering the best culinary shortcuts…which sort of undermines my point, I realize. But then again, all the hard work I’ve put into being lazy means you can be even lazier. Which makes you even genius-ier than me. (Or is it “I?” I’m too lazy to look it up.)
Over the past couple of years, I’ve shared my genius lazy ways to make the best Lazy Scrambled Eggs, Even Lazier Than No-Knead Bread, and Lazy Garlic Potato Soup. But now, I’m ready to share the most genius lazy recipe ever: Lazy Macaroni & Cheese. Not only does it use far fewer pots and dishes than the traditional method, but it also saves time.
The secret? Cooking the noodles in milk.
See, when making traditional macaroni and cheese, one starts by making a béchamel sauce. Which is flour, butter, and milk. Which uses up one pan. Then you boil noodles. Which uses up another pan. Then you drain the noodles in a colander, which means more dishwashing. Then, you combine it all in another pot or baking dish.
Jeez. I feel like I need to hire a busboy just typing out that paragraph.
My lazy mind looks at macaroni and cheese another way: “Why would you drain out all the starch released from the boiling noodles just to put new starch (béchamel) right back in with the noodles?” Why don’t you just make the béchamel from the starch released from the noodles? Better yet, why not do it all at the same time? In one pot?
That’s a lot of thinking. Which really tired me out. So just follow my lazy recipe below while I take a nap. You can thank me after I wake up.
Lazy Mac & Cheese
Prep Time: 5m
Cook Time: 15m
Total Time: 20m
- 5 Tablespoons Butter
- 7 cups whole milk
- ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 1lb macaroni, rotini or other sturdy noodle.
- 1 ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese (or mix of cheddar, parmesan, asiago, or other favorite cheeses.)
- Salt & pepper
Bring butter, milk, and nutmeg to a simmer in a large, heavy-bottomed pot, over medium-high heat. Watch carefully! You don’t want the milk to boil over. Once simmering, add pasta. Once the mixture has returned to simmer, stir occasionally to keep from sticking. (Continue to watch to keep from boiling over.)
The mixture will thicken as milk is absorbed into noodles, and starch is released. During the final five minutes of cooking time (according to the pasta cooking directions,) stir almost continuously to prevent noodles from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
At the end of pasta cooking time, most of the milk should be absorbed, and what remains should be thick and creamy. Stir in the grated cheese until it’s completely melted and incorporated, along with salt and pepper to taste.
(If you like your mac & cheese baked, simply pour the mixture into a buttered baking dish, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and bake in a 350F oven until browned on top.)