Who’s ready for comfort food season? Some foods just say relax, slow down and enjoy the comfort. When the days get a little shorter and the temperatures are cool enough to curl up with a bulky sweater and a blanket, we reach for foods that bring the idea of comfort.
Your choice in comfort foods may tell a bit about where you grew up. In the south it may be shrimp and grits, or perhaps gumbo and jambalaya. If you’re from Texas you may be drawn to chicken fried steak, and if you’re from the Midwest, you likely crave an assortment of casseroles and mac and cheese.
We typically crave dishes we knew in our youth, dishes made with love by someone we loved. When life gets difficult sometimes comfort food does the trick. Knowing how to self nurture is a great skill as long as you have many ways to make yourself feel better. Too much of one good thing just isn’t healthy. Most of our favorite comfort foods are high in fat, sugar and calories. Allowing ourselves to enjoy these treats in moderation is perfectly fine.
That said, when you see the ingredients in this dish you might realize why moderation is important. When I actually laid it all out to photograph I thought, “Oh, now I see why it tastes so good!”
This Skillet Macaroni and Cheese will give you the warm gooey-rich taste of classic comfort food, but won’t hold you up too long in the kitchen. It’s easy to throw together unlike other mac and cheese recipes that require creating a béchamel sauce.
I grew up in the 70’s when Velveeta cheese was ever so popular. Today, I have to admit, I’ve become a bit of a food snob preferring less processed foods. However, some recipes are worth adding those old traditions because nothing else will give you the same flavor and texture.
I found these sweet individual serving size cast iron skillets on Amazon. I use them to make single serving mac and cheese. Simply adjust the time, when baking, check at 10 minutes.
Skillet Macaroni and Cheese
For the Topping:
- 5 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 3 ounces Muenster cheese, shredded
- 2/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon Cholula or Franks hot sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- additional 3 tablespoons butter
For the Mac and Cheese:
- 1 lb. package elbow macaroni
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 8 ounce Muenster cheese, shredded
- 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 8 ounces sliced Velveeta (don’t substitute, trust me)
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Note: Notice in the images above that I start with the mac and cheese, then add on the topping. Once it’s spread evenly, top with the sauteed panko crumbs.
- Set your grill up so you can cook on indirect heat. Aim for a temperature of 350°F, or preheat your oven to 350°F.
- Have a 10 or 12 inch buttered cast iron skillet waiting (or use cooking spray).
- Set a pot of salted water on to boil for cooking the pasta.
- Combine the first 6 topping ingredients (all except panko crumbs and 3 Tbs. butter) in a medium bowl and set aside.
- Sauté the Panko crumbs in 3 Tbs. butter until light golden. Set aside.
- When the water is boiling, add the pasta. Cook until al dente. Turn the heat off, drain the pasta, and return the pasta to the pot.
- Add the butter and stir until the butter is melted.
- Add the cheeses and stir until the cheese is melted. If the cheese isn’t melting, turn the heat on to gently re-warm the pasta and melt the cheese. Add the half-and-half and salt and stir to combine.
- Pour all the cheesy mac into the buttered cast iron skillet.
- Dollop the topping on, spread it as evenly using an off-set spatula.
- Sprinkle the sauteed panko crumbs over the top.
- Put the skillet on the grill over the indirect heat, or in your oven, and cook until the cheese is bubbling and the topping is browned to your liking. I pulled it off when it was spotty brown. Approximately 25-30 minutes.
- Serve immediately.