I consider mac ‘n cheese to be “kick off my shoes, ratty-clothes-I-can’t-wear-out, just-wanna-stay-at-home” food. Sure I might try lobster mac ‘n cheese at a trendy bistro, but most often, I want a simple, homemade version that uses better cheese than American, but still reminds me of the Kraft packaged version from my childhood.
There are lots of great macaroni and cheese recipes out there. When my kids were growing up, I usually made a variation on the 1963 classic McCall’s Cook Book version. But I’ve gotten lazy and wanted to see if I could come up with a single serving mac ‘n cheese that does not require cooking the macaroni first. You think that’s impossible? Think again.
There are only 2 tricks: first, using macaroni or pasta that is relatively thin, such as elbow or mini farfalle (bow tie) shapes; and second, steeping the dry macaroni in the milk-based mixture for 10 minutes before baking. The result is more like a kugel or noodle pudding than a creamy casserole (and I did get the inspiration from a kugel recipe), but it’s pretty good for a dish that takes only a few minutes of active preparation time.
The ingredient list below is for 2 servings, but you can easily cut the amounts in half for 1 serving or multiply them for more – the math isn’t difficult. The baking time is for single serving ramekins; as long as you use them, adding another few to the oven wouldn’t change the timing drastically. I noted the egg proportions for a single serving but the dish is good cold or re-heated; if you’re eating alone, consider making 2 and keeping the second for leftovers.