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Crock-pot, “set it and forget it” Macaroni and Cheese

February 15, 2012

When I use my crock pot, I want to set it and forget it.  I don’t like that most macaroni and cheese recipes even ask me to cook my macaroni first.  What’s the point?  I’ll just bake it in the oven, then!  When I use my crock-pot, all I want to dirty and clean is my crock pot dish! This recipe allows you to use DRY macaroni in your recipe.  YES!

This past Valentines’ Day, my husband told me I couldn’t be home until 6pm because he had a surprise planned.  But, what about making dinner?!  So I decided to set up mac and cheese and have it ready when I got home.  The bonus: only ONE dish to clean!  I’m totally making valentines’ Day a one-dish evening EVERY year!  (What’s romantic about cleaning dishes?)

1 lb. DRY macaroni  (1 box)
1 egg
5 cups milk
4 T. butter
1 t. salt
4 cups cheese

  1. Line your crock pot with some cooking oil to keep the mac from hardening onto the sides.  (I like browned mac n’ cheese as much as anyone, but I mean hardening- like ucky hardening- not yummy browning)
  2. Beat one egg in your crock pot.
  3. Add dry macaroni.
    • I used penne because I didn’t have any elbows on hand.  I imagine elbows would be best, but my husband said he preferred the penne anyway!  Any pasta that says it will take btw 7-11 minutes I’m sure is fine.
  4. Add milk.
    • I used skim because it’s what I always have on hand, but feel free to change it up.  I don’t think it will affect the cooking much.
  5. Add Butter
    • I cut mine into chunks and just sprinkled it onto the rest of the ingredients.
  6. Add salt.
    • When we ate the meal, we sprinkled a little bit more salt on top of our serving (less than 1/8 t).  We talked about whether or not adding more to the receipe would have been a good idea, but both agreed that we liked the raw taste of salt on top better than making the overall dish more salty.  The 1 t. salt seemed to be plenty to draw out flavors and make the mac and cheese delcious.
  7. Add cheese.
    • I used sharp cheddar.  Feel free to play with what cheese combinations you use.
    • I highly recommend freshly shredding your cheese whenever you can.  Pre-shredded cheese is coated in parafin (yep, wax) which just seems weird to me to eat.  Freshly shredded cheese also seems to melt nicer.
  8. Stir ingredients.
  9. Set on LOW for up to 3.5 hours
    • Theoretically you could set it on HIGH for 2.5 hours.
    • I did LOW for 3.5 hours, but I think 3 or 3.25 hours would have been good, too.

Other suggestions:

  • If you have an oven-proof crock pot, sprinkle bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese on top and place it under the broiler until the crust is golden.
  • This is not a creamy velvetta style macaroni and cheese.  I purposely didn’t want to add any fake cheese to the recipe (which velvetta is), so what you get is a rous-style, authentic mac n’ cheese.  My husband said he preferred this consistency to velvetta-style recipes.
  • My husband said he stirred the macaroni and cheese when there was about 1 hour left. (He said it was still really soupy)  I’m not sure this did much, but it appears it can’t hurt!

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