For the recipe only, click here.
It was the great debate of Thanksgiving on social media: do you make your mac and cheese with or without a roux? We can all thank Draya for unintentionally starting the war of the attractive mac and cheese. I have to admit, I had never ever heard of such a thing. Why would you make cheese sauce before making your mac and cheese? That’s not how my mom makes it, and none of my friends had heard of this either. Is it a southern-style preparation? Does it result in that too-wet mac and cheese I really do not care for? Draya’s preparation was not that wild, ya’ll. But the Internet yelled at her about, I had to try a roux. I had to know if it would beat my family method of making this holiday staple.
One of the best things about the holidays is our natural draw toward our friends and family. We want to snuggle towards each other, out of the cold. Quite a difference from the dont-sit-too-close-to-me-Im-sweating of the summer time, and infused with a little more kindness and love than other times of the year. The block is not hot, but our couches and tables are warm and inviting.
Im a self-proclaimed hosting phobic. During my entire childhood, mom would ask me and my sister if we wanted to invite friends over. We’d look at each other like, why would we do that?! We had our snacks, each other, and our own entertainment. Who needs friends in our space?! Only now into my 20s have I slowly relinquished the idea that hosting friends for an evening is stress-inducing. Who knew that we could gather without perfectly placed chip bowls, fun decorations and a meticulously organized living room. Can you tell that I was a worrywart child? Sorry, mom.
It has been so long since I have been able to play in the kitchen the way I like. Im always making something fast for weekly meal-prep: whatever is most efficient, all four burners going at once with different components, storage containers laid out and ready to be filled. All of this on a Sunday night. All of this while thinking of the 100 things I didn’t finish yet. Somehow, Thanksgiving break made me realize what I was neglecting.
So I had some friends over post-exam. We sipped gin. We laughed at crappy tv. And I promised to share this new mac and cheese that I was going to make the next day. And there it was, a commitment to getting closer. A promise to keep leaning into people I love, and inviting them into my life, without the expectation of pressure. Maybe this mac and cheese would be trash. But I was going to put it on the table, and let them dig in.
We need people. More than we sometimes like to admit. At every stage of my life, I can look back and honestly say that it was because I had great people around me that I was able to not only survive, but grow and have fun while doing it. Without a doubt, my life would be far less pleasant, my achievements much fewer, and my daily gratefulness non-existent without the powerful people I have had the honor of calling my friends and family. They are the air that surrounds me. Yes, even when Im like see you guys later bye going home no thanks I don’t want to be at that social event see ya!
I am so glad it is holiday time so I can have the chance to thank my loves for blessing my life, in ways that mean the most to me.
I can only imagine that Draya’s dish was actually very delicious. Sometimes food is ugly, guys. But its whats in the dish, as well as what was put in through you that makes it good, and sometimes great.
The verdict on roux? I like it, but it doesn’t beat mama’s method yet for me. No matter how you make it, be sure to not skip the all-important step of love and intention. Invite in the imperfection, and cuddle up with those who receive it. It’s the holiday season. You deserve it.
Draya-Inspired Mac and Cheese
- 1 box of macaroni noodles (will use 4 cups for the amount pictured)
- 5-6 cups of assorted cheeses (here: sharp cheddar, gruyere, and gouda)
- 5 Tbsp salted butter
- 1 Tbsp flour
- 1 Tbsp chicken stock
- 1 Tbsp almond milk (can use heavy cream, half and half or milk)
- assort seasonings (here: onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, pepper, salt, Herbes de providence)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Boil water in a large pot and add pasta
- Boil for 8 minute or until done, drain and set aside in large bowl
- In medium sized pot, melt 4 Tbsp of butter, and add flour
- Add 4 cups of cheese to the roux, and whisk with stock and milk
- When completely combined, mix sauce into drained pasta
- Season to taste
- Butter oven-safe dish with remaining Tbsp of butter, add pasta mixture
- Top with remaining cheese and a sprinkle of pepper and paprika
- Bake in oven for 15 mins or until golden brown
- Stuff face.