Roux for Mac n Cheese

How is it possible to obtain a creamy smooth consistency in a mac and cheese. I'm looking to achieve more of a moist, wet, creamy consistency with my cheese/bechamel sauce. In the past it usually comes out rather dry when I gratine` it in my oven. I want to achieve "Velveeta" like consistency using a much better quality cheese.

James Durazzo


pierino September 3, 2011
I agree here with ChefJune and I have no confidence at all in anything Cooks Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen writes or says. A bechamel mistake that some people (like my sister) make is to fail to heat the milk to scalding first or else they just add it cold (like my sister) dumping it in all at once. It needs to be stirred in slowly. Personally I really like a strong, agressive cheddar flavor.
seabirdskitchen September 3, 2011

This recipe has received raves, so I guess it works. There are a couple of keys. First the equal quantities of butter/flour that I use are by weight not by volume. Second do indeed use whole milk. Atually for this I usually use raw milk, but that's a choice not a necessity. Undercooking the pasta is important too. Over saucing is critical, as amysarah says, because the undercooked pasta does absorb liquid.
amysarah September 3, 2011
I agree - a good creamy bechamel. Another thing I've found through trial and error: use more bechamel/cheese sauce than seems 'right' in proportion to the macaroni before you put it into the oven. Some sauce absorbs into the noodles while it bakes - the pasta should be slightly 'underdone' before baking too. In other words, if it seems a bit too saucy before it bakes, it will be the right balance of saucy when it's done. (But, as ChefJune said, you can still dry it out by leaving it in there too long.)
ChefJune September 3, 2011
Make sure your roux is nice and creamy BEFORE you add any cheese. You haven't said what your particular formula is, but if you use equal parts of butter and flour and make sure the flour is thoroughly cooked before you add milk (use whole milk) I think you'll be successful.

Also remember that all your ingredients are already cooked when you put it into the oven. You just need to bake until the top is brown and crisp. Over baking will also contribute to dryness.
gina_berthold September 3, 2011
I'm a fan of the Cook's Illustrated recipe for stovetop mac and cheese. It's really easy and makes the most amazing, creamy cheese sauce. They use a mixture of cheddar and monterey jack - cheddar for the flavor and jack for creaminess. A few minutes in the oven at the end gets the breadcrumb topping crispy but doesn't let the mac dry out. Here's a link to the recipe online
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