Face it: Making mac ‘n’ cheese can seem like a daunting task, for one reason and one reason only: the béchamel sauce. You have to scald the milk, and in a separate saucepan, melt the butter as you skillfully whisk flour into it, followed by the hot milk. Then comes the nutmeg and cheese — and we’re exhausted just thinking about it. But what if we told you you could totally skip this step? Because Ina Garden just shared a super-easy overnight mac ‘n’ cheese recipe, and there’s no mention of béchamel whatsoever.
“Mac & cheese is the ultimate comfort food, but this overnight version is so easy — you don’t even need to make a bechamel!” the Barefoot Contessa host wrote on Instagram. “It’s the ultimate, ultimate comfort food dinner!”
Garten’s overnight mac ‘n’ cheese is a beginner-level recipe that requires all the usual suspects such as elbow macaroni (or cavatappi), heavy cream, gruyere, sharp white cheddar, ground nutmeg, butter, and fresh white bread crumbs. But the process is unique. To start, cook the macaroni. Then, combine all of the ingredients for the sauce, stir the cooked pasta into the cream mixture, cover with plastic wrap, and let it sit in the fridge for 24 hours. According to the recipe, the pasta will absorb the cream and expand. Cool, right?
The next day, when you’re ready to cook, remove from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for one hour. Then, make and pour more of the cream mixture on top of the dish, and bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. That’s it! You’re done!
When it comes to making comfort food dishes easy and much more accessible — especially now, in the midst of a pandemic — you can always count on Garten.
Before you go, check out these other impressive Ina Garten recipes.