Who doesn't love macaroni and cheese? Seriously. Because I do. I even love the kind from the box, powdered cheese and all (I know it's wrong, don't hate me). Growing up, Hamburger Helper was a special treat that we would get really excited for - so when I found this recipe for a homemade version, I couldn't wait to try it.
Just a few ingredients are needed to make this ultimate comfort food, and you can use whatever herbs and spices you like to really make it your own.
All you have to do is brown ground beef with onion, add pureed tomatoes, spices, and partially cooked macaroni, top with lots of cheese, and bake.
Beefy Macaroni and Cheese
adapted from Michael Ruhlman
1 large onion, diced
1 tablespoon canola oil
salt and pepper to taste
seasonings, to taste (I used a lot of chili powder, some cumin, oregano, garlic powder, and paprika)
one 28-ounce tomato pureed (I used San Marzano - the good stuff)
2 lbs lean ground beef
1 lb macaroni (I used whole wheat, the chewier texture stands up well in casseroles)
1 cup each grated cheddar and mozzarella cheeses
Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt, cook until translucent. Add the beef and cook, breaking it up, until completely browned. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, along with any other seasonings you want. Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer.
Meanwhile, cook the macaroni in salted boiling water for half of the recommended cooking time. Drain and add to the beef and tomato mixture. Taste and adjust for seasoning as needed. Transfer it to a large baking dish and cover it with foil, let it sit out until cooled to room temperature (this allows the pasta to absorb the tomato sauce). At this point, the casserole can be refrigerated for up to two days, or frozen a few weeks.
Place the room temperature casserole in a 400 degree oven and bake until bubbling and hot, about 45 minutes. Remove the foil, cover macaroni with the cheeses and broil on high until melted and browned.