Ham and Three-Cheese Mac

This is my fourth attempt at Macaroni and Cheese in the last month or two.  I don't know what my problem was: the first one tasted like straight flour, the second was too watery, the third - just, no.  Oddly enough, the recipe that worked best, as you'll see, I used beef broth instead of milk/cream.  There is just something about the flavor profile that the beef broth brings out.  I figured, since this meal isn't vegetarian anyway, using the beef broth wouldn't be a problem.  However, if you are looking for a vegetarian version of mac and cheese, simply omit the ham, and instead of beef broth, go ahead and use 2% milk or light cream.  You'll also notice I used cornstarch instead of flour.  The cornstarch, in my opinion, makes your cheese sauce shinier and more velvety!  Let me know how you feel about the beef broth over the milk, the cornstarch over the flour, and as always, enjoy!

What You'll Need:
  • 1 pound pasta shells
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 1/3 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 1/2 cups cheese trio (pepper jack, swiss, cheddar), cubed
  • Fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 cup cooked ham, diced

1.  Start by bringing a pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook pasta shells according to package directions.

2.  Meanwhile, in a saucepan, whisk butter and cornstarch until incorporated and lumps are gone.  Pour in beef broth and whisk to incorporate.  When the mix starts to thicken slightly, add the cheese in small increments, whisking as you add.  When cheese has melted through, stir in pepper, onion powder, and ham.  Simmer on low for 10-15 minutes until flavors marry.

3.  When the pasta is al dente, drain completely.  Return to the hot pot and pour the ham and cheese sauce over.  Stir well to incorporate.  Transfer to a pyrex dish and let rest for about five minutes.  Sprinkle with a little extra cheddar cheese and cracked pepper.  Enjoy!


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