This Baked Macaroni and Cheese is the ultimate mixture of pasta with hearty chunks of ham in a rich, decadent sharp cheese sauce. Comfort food at it’s best!
Favorite food in the whole Universe.. and GO!!
Mine hands down is macaroni and cheese. I will admit to having a secret love for the processed, neon orange stuff but homemade is where it’s at. Al dente pasta, a decadent rich sauce and an obnoxious overload of cheese makes THIS GIRL happy, happy, happy.
Unfortunately, due to the fact that good macaroni and cheese is anything but figure friendly, I have had to tame my love affair to just special occasions and really bad days… both, however, are subject to a real or imagined status. Zombie Apocalypse? Mac n cheese for dinner!! Dropped my keys on the ground and I had to brush dirt off them? Mac n cheese to turn that bad day around!
It’s all very subjective when it comes to this dish.
Once upon a time, I had no idea how to cook. I had my moms meatloaf recipe and I knew how to boil water and occasionally even could make little mini pizzas out of English Muffins. In my defense, this was when I was in my 20’s, I lived alone and I was never home because… well… I was in my 20’s!
Then in came Big Scary Mike and I realized that A) my party days were over and B) I had better learn how to June Cleaver pretty darn fast. There were so many bad dinners. Things that were so horrifying they are still referred to all these years later. But little by little, I learned and that road of learning how to cook at some point led me right to Macaroni and Cheese. And I tried… and tried… and tried…. and now I can say that I have my own way of making it, my own recipe and a fail safe way to bribe my nephew Casey into doing just about anything for me as long a he gets his own 13 x 9 pan of cheesy goodness.
I’m ok with that.
This recipe that I am sharing with you today is not my exact usual recipe but it’s pretty close and this way I still have a bartering chip. I can’t reveal the mac n cheese secret recipe.. I never know when I’m going to need a babysitter for the Pack.
Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Ham
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and bring a large pot of water to boil. Add in the pasta and cook for 2 minutes and 45 seconds. Drain and set the pasta aside.
In a frying pan, add 1 tablespoon of butter and your diced ham. Cook over medium high heat until the meat is warmed through and has some color to it. Set aside.
In a small saucepan (or the cleaned out frying pan), add in 2 tablespoons of butter and once melted, add in 1 cup of seasoned breadcrumbs. Stir to combine and set aside.
While your pasta is cooking, melt your butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Once melted, add your flour and whisk to combine. Pour in your milk and while continuing to whisk, bring to a low boil. Add in your seasonings and continue to stir. Remove from the heat and whisk in your cheddar and Parmesan cheeses. I recommend using a good quality cheese and to chose one that is in block form. The pre-shredded bags are convenient but they seem to produce a lot of grease. To be honest, this is the point where I clean out my cheese drawer. Anything that only has a bit left to it.. in the pot it goes. Whisk to combine and once all the cheese is melted, check for seasoning and flavor. I usually go heavy on the spices but I tried to keep this pretty tame so you may want to add in a touch more of this or that. Combine the pasta, ham and the cheese and pour into a 9×9 baking pan. Sprinkle with the buttered breadcrumbs and bake uncovered for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let set for 10 minutes before serving.
If you don’t you will burn the roof of your mouth off!
This is a family favorite meal and is so easy to make that you will probably never make the blue box version ever again.
Well. Except when no one is looking.