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It's Fannie Mae, and it sounds racist if you ask me.

also, get the mac from Whole foods with their conglomoration of all the left over cheeses put on the top!

Posted by Non | July 15, 2008 2:40 PM

When you find that perfect cheesy mac recipe, please be sure to share it with your readers. My attempts at mac and cheese have never even come close to the gooey wonderousness that is City Market's Mac and Tillamook Cheese.

Posted by Kalakalot | July 15, 2008 2:43 PM

It's a (now officially sanctioned) spelled-out version of the original acronym of the organization: Fannie Mae was the Federal National Mortgage Association, F-N-M-A can kinda sound like 'fannie mae' when pronouced. Same for Freddie Mac, Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, which doesn't work quite as well but standardization is a good thing, right?

God, don't you guys have wikipedia?

Posted by Juris | July 15, 2008 2:44 PM

Pamela Anderson's cookbook "The Perfect Recipe" has an excellent recipe for mac and cheese and if I had it here in front of me I'd go all Cindy McCain and post it here as my own. It should be noted that this is not Pamela Anderson of Baywatch fame, though I can't say there isn't a possibility that she has a delicious recipe of her own.

Posted by Linsey | July 15, 2008 2:44 PM

What about the Beecher's Mac & Cheese that they sell at Pasta & Co?

Or are you dying to make it yourself? And are you meaning the "like Kraft only mom made" kind or the more upscale gourmet kind?

Posted by PopTart | July 15, 2008 2:45 PM

make your own - be creative.

do you have what it takes wimp?

doubt it.

Posted by chet | July 15, 2008 2:46 PM

America's Test Kitchen's Best Recipe book has a tasty mac and cheese. They have you put a little hot sauce in so it has a delightful kick.

I always feel guilty eating just pasta and goo so I put in some frozen peas or other veggies and perhaps some ham when I make mac & cheese.


Posted by megaroni | July 15, 2008 2:52 PM

A million and a half years ago, your fearless leader Dan Savage had a radio show, and on one episode of that show he pitted his mac'n'cheese recipe (a box of Kraft Dinner, prepared as directed on the box) against his cohost (whose name I can't remember, dammit) and her fancy-schmancy real-cheese extravaganza. I think he refused to admit that hers was better.

My second-favorite comfort food is a box of Kraft Dinner with one can of tuna fish and one large handful of frozen peas stirred into it (number one is canned Cream of Celery soup with six slices of bread soaked in).

Posted by Fnarf | July 15, 2008 2:52 PM

The posted recipe makes me sad because it does not include bechamel. Mac and cheese without bechamel is a dim imitation of real mac and cheese.

Posted by Jess | July 15, 2008 2:52 PM

If I had to guess I'd say this wouldn't turn out too well. Usually just throwing in cheese turns out to be a separated gritty mess. A quality mac n' cheese recipe is going to involve a mornay sauce (ie, reux + milk + cheese). Maybe the eggs would help. Dunno.

Posted by w7ngman | July 15, 2008 2:52 PM

I've been using this recipe for years, and everybody loves it:

Instead of sharp cheddar, I use Tillamook medium, and I skip the paprika, top it with buttered breadcrumbs, and bake it for half an hour. The cottage cheese makes it really smooth and creamy.

Posted by Raven | July 15, 2008 2:54 PM

What is bechamel? Is that french?

I think that maybe if you used velveeta you'd be good to go - that sh#t melts like butta!!

Posted by megaroni | July 15, 2008 2:55 PM

My Mac and Cheese is really good.
I use a pint of whipping cream, a package of pepper jack, or just a good sharp cheddar, grated, and a small can of either red or green chili sauce. I like the actual mexican brands, with the labels in spanish. Maybe a few jalapeno's if I am feeling saucy.
Boil the noodles, preferably big elbows, to al dente.
Mix everything in a greased glass baking pan, cover with foil, bake at 425 for 45 minutes to an hour.
If desired, pull the foil off after 35 minutes or so, throw another handful of cheese on top, and let it get brown.


Posted by Ries Niemi | July 15, 2008 2:56 PM

Bechamel is milk/cream thickened with reux. #9 and #10 are pretty much the same comment.

Posted by w7ngman | July 15, 2008 3:00 PM

Gotta start with the roux: saute flour and butter until foamy, whisk in whole milk until somewhat thickened, then dump in lots of grated, favorite cheese (cheddar, gruyere, jack, etc.). Stir that goop smooth, mix it with cooked elbow mac, and bake it (or not). Egg? Nyet.

Posted by ROAG | July 15, 2008 3:01 PM

For an explanation of Rouxs and Bechamel sauces check out -

Posted by apres_moi | July 15, 2008 3:02 PM

Putting breadcrumbs in mac&cheese is soooo nasty. Just don't do it.

Posted by eewwww breadcrumbs | July 15, 2008 3:06 PM

I prefer the Canadian Kraft Dinner, because the label actually tells you what's inside, whereas the American box doesn't.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 15, 2008 3:10 PM

This is the recipe I grew up with:

7 oz cooked macaroni

2 tblsn chopped onion

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups cheddar (I like sharp)

2 cups thin white sauce

Heat oven to 375. Layer 1/2 the macaroni in ungreased 2 quart casserole. Sprinkle with 1/2 the onion, salt pepper, and cheese. Repeat. Pour white sauce over casserole. Cover, bake 30 min. Uncover, bake another 15.

White Sauce:

2 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoon flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 cups milk

Melt butter in saucepan over low heat. Blend in flour, salt, and pepper. Cook over low heat, stirring until mixture is smooth & bubble. Remove from heat. Stir in milk & heat to boiling while stirring constantly. Boil & stir 1 minute.

Good luck!

Posted by rah | July 15, 2008 3:10 PM

Yes, best to make it from a roux, and you have to experiment with different mixtures of cheese to find the flavor you like best. I also add a couple tablespoons of this Romano cheese and herb mixture from Penzeys:

Posted by Erica T. | July 15, 2008 3:13 PM

"[Kurt Cobain's] gut problems were exacerbated by his tour diet which, as stipulated in his band Nirvana's rider, consisted of 'only Kraft macaroni and cheese'." --The Observer (UK), February 1, 2004

That's a true Seattle-centric macaroni and cheese story. Now you know.

Posted by Jeff Stevens | July 15, 2008 3:14 PM

What 15 said, but the killer secret ingredients are sauteed onions (in the butter before adding the flour and milk) and then Worcestershire sauce and dry mustard in the sauce before adding the cheese. Cheese is mostly a good, smooth melter like colby or medium cheddar with a little something good like aged cheddar. Serve with applesauce and sliced raw carrots, of course.

Posted by Travis | July 15, 2008 3:15 PM

I always make mine with Bechamel, but I've been meaning to try this recipe posted at Smitten Kitchen. Macaroni baked into a pound of cheese sounds like a good start.

Posted by Lola | July 15, 2008 3:17 PM

Here you go, a classic macaroni and cheese recipe from Martha Stewart:

It's really good and simple enough.

Posted by cheese | July 15, 2008 3:18 PM

"When we were selling a lot of records during Nevermind, I thought, 'God, I'm gonna have like $10 million, $15 million.' That's not the case. We do not live large. I still eat Kraft macaroni and cheese--because I like it. I'm used to it. We're not extravagant people."

--Kurt Cobain, Rolling Stone interview, published Jan. 27, 1994

Posted by Jeff Stevens | July 15, 2008 3:24 PM

Here's what I do. I think I might make it on Thursday when it is slightly cooler outside. Sometimes I also add mushrooms.

2 cups dry macaroni (8oz)
1 1/2 cups fresh coarse breadcrumbs
4 tbsp butter
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 onion, finely diced
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp flour
2 cups milk
2 1/2 cups shredded sharp or medium cheddar (about 10oz)

Preheat oven to 375. Boil pasta until al dente, drain and set aside. Meanwhile, melt 1 tbsp butter and toss with breadcrumbs, set aside.

In a large saucepan melt the remaining 3 tbsp butter over medium heat. Saute the onions and peppers until soft, about 5-10 minutes. Add the salt and cayenne pepper.

Whisk in flour and continue whisking for about 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low and simmer for 2-3 minutes or until sauce has coats the back of a spoon. Whisk in the cheese until melted. Stir in the pasta until well coated and then pour the mixture into a 2-quart casserole. Top with buttered bread crumbs and bake for 20-30 minutes or until it is golden brown and bubbly. Let it cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Posted by boxofbirds | July 15, 2008 3:25 PM

The Bleu Bistro has got some bitching Mac and Cheese. Cheaper and easier than making it at home and its a super cute place.

Posted by I've got your cheese here | July 15, 2008 3:27 PM

So, Paul, for the 2009 Stranger Man-Off, are you gonna eat an entire stock pot full of mac'n'cheese, then wash it down with a jumbo-size jar of Ragu?

Is that what this is all about, then?

Posted by Jeff Stevens | July 15, 2008 3:29 PM

my mom's easy recipe:

- boil pasta (with a splash of veg oil & salt)
- drain pasta, put back in pot on low-medium burner while still hot
- mix about a tablespoon of sour cream in, more if necessary
- mix in cheese of your choice (i recommend sharp cheddar & havarti) and a dash of hot sauce if you want
- the whole thing is easy as hell, 15 minutes start to finish, with no baking required! you should at least give it a try.

Posted by Try me | July 15, 2008 3:30 PM

Check out She lists a couple of greats.

My personal favorite:

Mix all of the ingredients together in your crockpot and cook on low for about 2 hours. Leave longer--crockpots won't burn & it'll get crusty. If no crockpot, go to Value Village and find one. In a pinch, mix all ingredients together and bake, covered, at 375.

NOTE: DON'T cook the macaroni first.

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup cottage cheese (not lowfat)
2 cups milk (not skim)
1 pound sharp or extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated (I usually mix 3 parts cheddar to 1 part swiss)
1/2 pound elbow pasta, uncooked.

Posted by mj | July 15, 2008 3:33 PM

I don't measure things, but my heart-attack mac Ďn cheese is delicious and more or less this is how you make it:

Put some macaroni noodles on to cook. While they are cooking, melt some butter in a pan (try about 1 TBS for a 2 person dish) and add equal parts flour to create a roux. Slowly add milk while whisking until you have enough sauce (remember, I said I don't measure-- but it's probably something like a cup of milk), it should be thick but not cement style.

Pick a cheese you like-- I enjoy a nice sharp cheddar, but almost anything will do-- and add a bunch of that. I would say about a cup or so-- you can add more milk or cheese to taste and to thicken/thin the sauce. Great about 1/2 cup extra cheese and set aside.

Drain the macaroni noodles and mix with the cheese sauce in a large bowl. Grease the bottom of a baking pan (8X8 should work for this size recipe) or casserole dish and add layer of pasta, layer of extra cheese and another layer of pasta.

If you have bread crumbs lying around, sautť them in a pan with some butter, then sprinkle over the top of the pasta. (You can use stale French bread or baguette, toast it until crisp and crumble it for the same effect). Leave uncovered, bake about 25-30 minutes or until bread crumbs are crispy and golden brown.

You will probably have a stroke after eating this, but it's delicious.

*Note: for spicy mac n cheese try pepper jack. Sometimes itís good if you add a little parmesan with the bread crumbs on top, all the fun is in the experimentation.

Posted by SDizzle | July 15, 2008 3:38 PM

I donít have a recipe for you. But, take any halfway decent store-bought brand (probably not Kraft, though Iíve never tried), make it with the noodles just slightly undercooked, add sour cream and salsa, pop it in the oven for a bit, and you will have a tasty meal. I donít have amounts or temperatures but itís pretty tough to screw up.

Posted by Julie | July 15, 2008 3:40 PM

Best mac and cheese ever: Mac & Cheese for Grownups. But you'll want to up the cayenne significantly.

Posted by also | July 15, 2008 3:45 PM

C,mon, JTC, say something about cheese, I dare ya!

Posted by The Incredible Husk | July 15, 2008 3:47 PM

My own simple recipe: Basic bechamel sauce, shredded cheddar, add cooked macaroni and as much chopped garlic and chili powder as you can tolerate (green chili powder is great if you can find it, but red is also OK), top with extra cheese, and bake at 350 until top layer of cheese is browned (15-20 minutes).

By the way, I thought Fannie Mae was the name of a candy company. Or maybe I'm thinking of Fannie Farmer. Isn't it interesting that candy companies tend to be named Fannie?

Posted by RainMan | July 15, 2008 6:19 PM

It's ok @35... I thought it was one of those makeup companies like Avon where people scam-- err, sell it to their friends.

Posted by SDizzle | July 16, 2008 9:07 AM

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