Skillet Mac & Cheese

By • September 15, 2009 • 20 Comments

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Author Notes: Mac & Cheese is one of our favorite meals, and it goes into heavy rotation in the cooler months of the year. I used to bake mine in a regular ceramic baking dish, but one night a craving hit while my baking dish was on loan to a neighbor, so I decided to build the cheese sauce in our trusty cast iron skillet and just bake the mac & cheese right in it. My husband and I liked the result so much that I haven’t made it any other way since, and as an added bonus, we have one less pan to wash. This is in no way a light dish, but I like to offset the richness by serving it with plenty of sautéed greens or a leafy salad with a sharp vinaigrette. This recipe is scaled for an 11-inch cast iron skillet.lastnightsdinner

Serves 4-6

  • 1 pound dry chunky pasta (shells work great here)
  • kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick), plus an additional 1-2 tablespoons for topping
  • 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon Colman’s dry mustard, or to taste
  • hot pepper sauce (like Tabasco), to taste
  • 2 cups grated sharp farmhouse Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup grated cave-aged Gruyere
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmagiano Reggiano, plus ¼ cup for topping
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano, plus ¼ cup for topping
  • 2 cups coarse fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, rosemary, sage or savory
  1. Cook the pasta in an abundant amount of boiling, salted water until it is just short of al dente. Drain, rinse with cool water and set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400.
  3. Melt ¼ cup butter in the iron skillet and whisk in the flour. Cook briefly and then whisk in the milk and cream until smooth.
  4. Whisk in the dry mustard, hot sauce, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt.
  5. Add the Cheddar, Gruyere, ½ cup of Parmagiano Reggiano and ½ cup of Pecorino Romano a little at a time, stirring until they are well incorporated. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  6. Add the cooked, drained pasta to the cheese mixture and stir gently until the pasta is well coated with sauce.
  7. Combine the chopped herbs, breadcrumbs, and the remaining cheeses and spread evenly over the top of the pasta and cheese. Crumble another tablespoon or two of butter and scatter it over the top of the crumb mixture.
  8. Place the skillet into the oven and bake uncovered until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbling (20-25 minutes). Allow the mac & cheese to sit 5 minutes before serving.
Jump to Comments (20)

Tags: cheese, comfort food, kid-friendly, leftovers, pasta, savory

Comments (20) Questions (1)

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about 2 years ago shozgirl

made last week and fantastic, we gobbled it up. Did have bits sticking to skillet, which are tough to clean without using water. Going to spray the skillet this time, adding some pancetta : )

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about 3 years ago zoemetro uk

What a perfect idea. And so very easy. My husband and son loved your recipe. I am going to make it again tonight adding a bowl of butternut squash and zucchini (no peel) puree. This is how I get my son to eat his vegetables when he only picks at the 'visible' ones on his plate. Thank you so much lastnightsdinner!

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about 3 years ago WileyP

Might even use my dedicated cornbread ci skillet to try this one out, and that has never happened before. Better yet, this is a great excuse to go get another ci skillet!

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over 3 years ago Lizthechef

Save me a plate!

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over 4 years ago skillet

This was awesome! You made my kids very happy!! Great idea to use cast iron. Worked perfectly!

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over 4 years ago THEToughCookie

[licking screen] MMMmMmmmmmmmmmm

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over 4 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

Making this tonight - and adding morels. Doesn't that sound beyond yummy?

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over 4 years ago lastnightsdinner

Oh my goodness yes. Please do report back.

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almost 5 years ago maryvelasquez

If I want to make this ahead, should I assemble it all and bake it on the evening I want to serve it, or should I pre-bake it and rewarm it before serving?

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almost 5 years ago lastnightsdinner

Hm... you know, I've never done it ahead of time, but I'd probably suggest cooking the pasta and sauce and storing them separately, then re-warming the sauce a bit and combining it with the pasta just before baking. I guess you could mix them together before storing and then add the topping and bake just before you're ready to serve, but my concern is that the pasta might absorb too much liquid if it sits more than overnight or so. If you try it, please let us all know what you did and how it works for you? I'm genuinely curious. I might have to play with this myself for my next go-around. :) Thanks and good luck!

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almost 5 years ago KelseyTheNaptimeChef

Mmm, I've tried skillet lasagna but never skillet mac and cheese. I love that you add dry mustard, I like that in my mac and cheese, too!

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almost 5 years ago lastnightsdinner

I love that little bit of tang the mustard provides. I just love mustard in general!

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almost 5 years ago PhoebeLapine

double YUM

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almost 5 years ago lastnightsdinner

hee - thanks :D

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almost 5 years ago palatetopen

I have just the skillet for this hearty recipe. With all of these cheeses the flavor must be unreal!

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almost 5 years ago lastnightsdinner

We love it - making this tonight, in fact, with my "base" cheeses and a few odds and ends added in!

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almost 5 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

This is gorgeous! It's definitely going heavily into our rotation, too. (When I first saw the picture, I thought that toasted bread on the top was bacon, which seemed like such a great addition. I'm from Virginia, where any form of pork is always welcomed with open arms into any dish, at any time. I think I'll add just a touch of bacon, to add the element of surprise to this beautiful classic.) Thank you for posting this!!

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almost 5 years ago lastnightsdinner

Thanks, and I hope you like it! I will admit that from time to time, particularly after my husband has rendered down fatback for confit, I'll add some pork cracklings to the crumb topping. Bacon is a great addition, too :) Enjoy!

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about 5 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

This looks delicious. One pan to wash - brilliant!

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about 5 years ago lastnightsdinner

Thanks!