Mac and cheese is one of those dishes that’s appropriate for any size of crowd, from a quick weeknight dinner for two (or one hungry eater) to a weekend gathering. Here, we’ve taken our best mac and cheese recipe and scaled it for three sizes of Field Skillet: No.4 (2 servings), No.6 (4 servings) and No.8 (8 servings).
Any great mac and cheese begins by making a creamy, cheesy sauce, and for that we look to the classic Mornay, a milk-based béchamel thickened with melted cheese. From there all you have to do is pick your serving size, grab the corresponding Field Skillet, and you’re ready to go.
While cheddar is the standard cheese for this dish, you can swap in any melting cheese, such as gruyere, fontina, or gouda.
When making the mornay sauce, it’s key to simmer the sauce until any grittiness is cooked away. Taste the sauce after a few minutes (caution: it’ll be HOT), and continue cooking until it’s silky smooth.
If you’re making mac and cheese in a No.4 or No.6 skillet, you’ll have some leftover Mornay. This freezes and thaws easily, so you can use it for your next batch of mac, spoon it over steamed vegetables, or make a croque monsieur or Welsh rarebit.
Half the fun of mac and cheese is dressing it up with toppings. Buttered breadcrumbs is a classic crispy topping: for a No.4 mac and cheese, combine ¼ cup dry breadcrumbs or panko with 1 tablespoon melted butter and 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese (double or triple this ratio for No.6 or No.8 skillets), then sprinkle over the mac and cheese before baking. For something more adventurous, try spooning some store-bought chile crunch over the baked mac, or top it with dollops of hatch chile salsa and a sprinkling of fried onions and chopped cilantro.
Recipe: 4/6/8 Cast Iron Mac and Cheese
For the Mornay sauce:
2½ cups whole milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon dry mustard
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
12 ounces (about 3 cups) grated sharp cheddar cheese
For the mac ‘n’ cheese:
Dried macaroni (or similar pasta): 16 ounces for No.8; 8 ounces for No.6; and 4 ounces for No.4
Optional toppings (See Field Notes, above)
The Field Method for Cast Iron Care
Make the Mornay sauce: In a small saucepan, warm the milk over medium-low heat until it steams. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the flour and dry mustard and cook, stirring, until smooth, about 1 minute. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly, and bring the liquid to a gentle simmer. Cook, whisking frequently until the sauce is thickened and any grittiness is cooked away, 8 to 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the cheese, stirring until it’s melted.
Measure out the amount of sauce you need for your size of skillet: 1 cup for a No.4 skillet; 2 cups for a No.6 skillet, or 4 cups for a No.8 skillet. Extra sauce can be refrigerated for up to 2 days, or frozen for months.
Make the mac ‘n’ cheese: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Measure out the amount of pasta you need for your size of skillet. Cook the pasta until almost al dente, then drain and return to the saucepan. Add the Mornay sauce and stir until well coated. (If you like your mac extra cheesy, you can add extra sauce).
Transfer the mac ‘n’ cheese to a Field Skillet. If you’re adding breadcrumbs (see Field Notes), sprinkle them over the pasta now. Bake the pasta until the cheese is bubbling, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve right away.