I rarely get to sit down and have a meal with Stephen. Not like our lives are too hectic (I mean, they kinda are), but it’s just not necessary. We eat when each of us are hungry and it’s really not a big deal when it comes down to “meal-time”. But occasionally I ask him to not fuck off and eat snacks, so we can have a full sit-down meal together. Like adults. (Which we’re not).
When we cook together, I’m basically delegated to everything besides cooking the main meat. I’m totally fine with that since I can let him mess that up all he wants and I won’t get blamed. Since we were going all out here, I love a balanced plate with a main protein, side carb, and side green. Using what we had on hand, I decided ground beef mac & cheese with canned green beans vinaigrette would be a decent fit. Hey, we do the best we can.
In a large pot on medium-high heat, brown the ground beef. It should only take a few minutes for it brown up and render down.
For about 1 lb of meat, 1/4 cup of flour should be enough. Check how much fat you have rendered and try to eyeball it for the same amount of flour. While continuing to stir, it should start clumping together. This is good – keep stirring until you don’t see any flour at all. Then, slowly begin to pour in the milk little by little.
In between pouring milk/stirring, you can begin to chop your cheese on the side. PLEASE – I beg of you – do NOT buy shredded cheese ever in your life. The sawdust bullshit they use to stuff in the shredded cheese bags is abhorrent. For cheese sauces or anything where it needs to be melted, chopping pieces off block cheese is absolutely fine (and likely cheaper).
You can really use whatever cheese(s) you want. I used 8 oz of Sharp Cheddar and 8 oz of Horseradish Cheese here, but it’s really up to you/who you’re serving. If you’re using two different cheeses like I did, start with the harder cheese to melt in the bechamel first (the cheddar in this case). Horseradish Cheese (whatever that is, likely jack cheese) is very malleable and it’ll melt quicker.
Once the mac and cheese is just about done, I let Stephen take the reigns and cook the steak. It was only a few minutes each side for a nice medium rare on the cast iron skillet. The can of green beans were dumped into a bowl with equal parts extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar mixed vigorously. Stephen even went out of his way on the cast iron and toasted some bread for both of us in the steak fat.
Another thing Stephen did, and most importantly, he plated both our plates. Which is why there is SO MUCH food on my freaking plate. Makes for a great pic, of course, but like really babe?
Overall, it was a lovely meal we shared together while not talking to each other and binge-watched something on Neftlix instead.
—beef mac & cheese ingredients—
- 1 lb elbow pasta, cooked and set to the side
- 1 lb total melting cheeses (I used 8oz extra sharp cheddar, 8 oz horseradish cheddar) NOT pre-shredded
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/4 cup flour (give or take)
- 2-3 cups milk (give or take)
- Seasoning to taste (salt, pepper, ground mustard, garlic powder)
—beef mac & cheese directions—
- In a large pot on medium-high heat, brown the ground beef with just a little bit of vegetable oil. Don’t stir too frequently so the meat can brown up, but make sure everything is cooked through thoroughly.
- Bring heat down to medium, and add the flour. Keep stirring until all the fat has been picked up, and everything is starting to come to a ball. If it doesn’t happen, slowly add scant amounts of flour to the beef until it does. Cook out the flour about 5 minutes.
- Slowly add splashes of milk to the beef and flour mixture until everything is incorporated. Once it’s mixed through, then proceed with the next splash of milk. Continue this until the thickness is what you’d imagine for a mac & cheese.
- Now is the point where you stop and taste for seasoning. The cheese and beef will likely give it some saltiness already, so adjust accordingly for the amount of salt. Ground pepper and ground mustard are very helpful in building the usual mac & cheese flavor, and garlic powder is a good addition as well.
- By this point, you should have been been shredding (or chopping) your NON-pre-shredded cheese. Begin to slowly integrate the cheese pieces into the milk sauce little by little, continuing to stir on medium-low heat.
- Once all the cheese has been melted throughout, turn the heat off and add the cooked macaroni. Mix very thoroughly so the cheese sauce can get into the little macaroni tubes and settle.
- Serve immediately. Any leftovers can be reheated in the microwave no problem, just note that a splash of milk might help to get the same consistency.