Our mom, who passed away on April 21, 2009, at the age of 79, had taken the time once to use a Brother word processor (a glorified typewriter with an LCD screen) to type up a lot of her recipes. Unfortunately, no one told her about the floppy disk drive so she could save her work, but I do have everything sheʹd printed in a three‐ring binder.
There are recipes she never wrote down, simply because she hit the wall of, “Oh, I never measure anything.” On May 27, 2007, she decided to make her well‐known Velveeta-based macaroni & cheese, something I like with plenty of Heinz ketchup on it. The whole family loves it, as do friends. Mom learned it from her own mom back in the late 1950s, and the recipe hasn’t changed.
But it was never written down, either.
Camera in‐hand, that Sunday I followed her every step, bugging the bejeepers out of her with my constant requests of, “Hold still, mom, you’re making it blur again.” (As Jimmy Neutron once said, “Sorry about your bejeepers, mom!”) That afternoon is where the photos in this recipe came from. After almost 50 years with mom, and decades prior to that with her own mom, after literally hundreds of friends and family have enjoyed the results, this popular and highly-searched‐for recipe is finally written down.
We hope you enjoy this dish as we have.
Mom's Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese
- 1 lb Elbow macaroni
- 2 lb Velveeta
- 6 Tbsp Butter
- 2% or whole milk (no, I don’t know how much … you’ll see …)
- Get yourself out a double boiler. Add about 3/8″ water to the outer pan, then set the inner pan inside. Set the double boiler over high heat.
- Add about 4 quarts water to a 6-quart pan that has a good lid, and set it for high heat. When it boils, add 1 lb elbow macaroni, cover it with the lid, remove it from the heat, and let it set for 10 minutes while continuing with the rest of this recipe. At the end of those 10 minutes, immediately drain the pasta.Meanwhile, back on the stove …
- Once the water in the double boiler is, well, boiling, reduce the heat slightly so the water is still at a nice high simmer. Begin making the cheese (… is it? …) sauce by cutting 28 oz. of the 32 oz Velveeta block into the inner pan in chunks about an inch square or so. While doing so, be extremely careful of hot steam that may still be escaping from between the two pans of the double boiler. (This is exactly why children who attempt to make this dish need to be heavily supervised!)
- Add the 6 tablespoons butter to the cut cheese. (I know there’s a joke in that phrase, but I’m not going there just now.) If you use unsalted butter instead of salted butter in this step, you may want to add just a bit of salt … but not too much! The salt will punch up the flavor for the unsalted butter, but isn’t necessary if you use salted butter or the margarine mom used in this picture. No, that yogurt-based “spread” you have in the fridge to help you keep your girly figure won’t work here. And no, there probably ain’t no trans fat in there anyway, as they’ve probably taken it all out by now. Besides, if you’re that worried about it, why are you making macaroni & cheese?? Oh, never mind …
- Add enough 2% or whole milk to the point where what’s in the pan is almost completely covered. No, mom never measured this measurement. Can’t you see she’s just pouring it out of the carton here? Pay attention, ok? Thanks. Anyway, no, 1% milk or skim won’t work for this. You have to have a decent amount of milkfat for the sauce to thicken-up. No, don’t go off the deep end and use heavy cream! Ummm … ok … yeah, you know, that is a thought … maybe heavy cream would be a good idea … No, no way, get those soy and rice “milk” wannabees outta here! What’s that? Goat’s milk?? Hey, that’s worth a try, sure, why not …Add just a little salt and pepper to the sauce here … but not too much! Mom says, “Five shakes salt, two shakes pepper”. Of course, that also depends on the size of the pepper grind, whether you’re using Kosher or iodized salt, the size of the holes in the shak … oh, I don’t know, you figure it out …
- Using a wooden spoon, stir what’s in the double boiler constantly … continuously … without fail … duct-tape the spoon to your hand so you can’t let go … don’t even head down the hall to use the loo … ok, sure you can, it’s the first door on the left, and don’t forget to spray when you’re done … just don’t take any extra time on the bidet … contemplatively stir the sauce over the semi-boiling water until all those ingredients are pretty-much about as smooth as they’re going to get. And frankly, they’re going to get pretty-darn smooth for you. Just be careful not to stir it too fast or it’ll go everywhere. And if you stir it too slowly, you’ll end up with a skin forming on-top with a ring of nasty stuff around the inside top of the pan right where the top of the sauce is. And that stuff is not easy to clean up!
- As you can see in the pic mom used a little 1-cup Pyrex measuring cup for this next step, but any glass measuring bowl will do. Take 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, add it to the little mixing bowl (oh, ok, or the little Pyrex 1-cup measuring cup), and add just enough lukewarm water to turn that flour into a smooth paste, aka a "slurry". No, you’re not looking for the density of pancake batter, it’s got to be thicker than that. More like wet plaster is the kind of density you’re looking for here. Really, though, if you accidentally add too much water and the paste is too thin, just add more flour, then don’t use as much of this thickening paste/slurry in this next step.
- V-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y, add the slurry you just made to the sauce still brewing on the stove, continuously, constantly, conemplatively stirring the sauce while adding it. If it’s all gone well, and you’ve stayed away from soy milk and the yogurt spread, the sauce will thicken almost immediately. That’s a good thing, so don’t be afraid of it! After you’ve finished adding the thickening paste, continue stirring the sauce until it’s at a good consistency for macaroni & cheese. You’ll know what that consistency is when you see it, believe you me.
- Once the sauce is thick enough, and the elbow macaroni is drained, butter the inside of a large, glass oven-safe bowl. No, don’t use that non-stick spray stuff, it adds the wrong kind of flavor … Add the finished macaroni to the buttered bowl. Slowly pour the finished sauce into the macaroni, then fold it all together. Let it set up for a few minutes so the sauce will properly congeal before serving, or, if the macaroni & cheese is for later, just refrigerate it until it’s ready for reheating in the microwave or, more preferably, in a 300 degree F oven.