I LOVE creamy mac and cheeses. Sometimes, when I’m making a baked mac and cheese, I’ll scoop out a little bowl for myself to snack on while the rest is baking in the oven. Confession: I inevitably just end up eating ALL the mac and cheese straight from the pot, no baking required. It’s an endless struggle (roll your eyes, it’s a first world problem, I know!) deciding if I want creamy mac and cheese or baked.
The appeal of baked mac and cheese is of course the crispy crunchy, deeply burnished pieces of cheese at the edges of the casserole dish. As delicious as those crunchy bits are, sometimes I can’t wait an hour for my mac and cheese to bake. And of course, there’s something to be said about the smooth, dreamy creamy texture of stovetop mac and cheese.
This stovetop mac and cheese recipe has the added bonus of being fast, at least compared to baked mac and cheese. I know that there are some one-pot mac and cheese recipes out there, but I like taking the time to boil the mac separately. If you’re really trying to cut down on doing dishes/making things easy, you can go ahead and cook your broccoli and mac, remove and drain it, then make the sauce in the same pot you boiled the noodles in. From that point on, all you do is make a simple roux, then toss everything together and you’re sitting down to a giant bowl of creamy, dreamy jalapeño broccoli mac and cheese. It’s got vegetables in it, so it’s totally healthy, am I right?!
Jalapeño Broccoli Mac and Cheese Recipe
serves 4 – 6
- 2 cups dry macaroni or small pasta of choice
- 1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 1/2 cups milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 cups grated cheese of choice (I used a mix of Monterey jack and cheddar)
- 1 diced jalapeño, or to taste
Boil your macaroni until al dente, according the package. When there is 30 seconds to a minute left on the cooking time, add the broccoli to the boiling water. When the macaroni is finished and the broccoli is bright green, drain, rinse with cold water and set aside until your sauce is finished.
In the same pot or a large sauté pan or skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and stir constantly for about three minutes, until completely smooth and incorporated. Pour in 1 cup of the milk in a thin stream while whisking. It might start out lumpy, but keep whisking and it will smooth out into a thick paste. Add the rest of the milk and whisk until smooth. Keep on medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until the sauce thickens.
Remove from the heat and add the salt and pepper, diced jalapeños, and cheese. Stir until cheese is melted. Add the drained pasta and broccoli and gently mix. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed and enjoy hot.