Pressure Cooker Macaroni and Cheese
My go-to Macaroni and Cheese has been evolving over the last year, but I have a new favorite – and of course, it uses the pressure cooker.
That’s right, macaroni and cheese without the dreaded blue box.
For years I made the mac and cheese from Pam Anderson’s The Perfect Recipe. Then, a few years ago, I read Ideas in Food and their version – it seemed like a variation on Pam’s recipe, stripped down to the basics.
Both recipes use evaporated milk as their secret weapon. Evaporated milk replaces the flour and milk bechamel sacue…and all the whisking that entails. I mashed the two recipes together, and that’s what I’ve been using.
Now, even with the evaporated milk shortcut, this was a stretch to make on a weeknight. Especially if I want a toasted bread crumb topping. And if I’m making macaroni and cheese, it must have a bread crumb topping.
That’s why I jumped when I saw the pressure cooker macaroni and cheese in Pressure Cooker Perfection. They pressure cook the pasta and spices in a small amount of water, treating it like a risotto. This trick really speeds up the recipe – no waiting for a pot of water to boil, no draining, and one (pressure cooker) pot to clean. Weeknight macaroni and cheese is now within my reach.
In fact, the Pressure Cooker Perfection version looks like the Ideas version, which obviously built on Pam’s version, which she developed while she was working for Cooks Illustrated. What comes around, goes around…
Recipe: Pressure Cooker Macaroni and Cheese
Adapted from: America’s Test Kitchen Pressure Cooker Perfection
Cooking time: 30 minutes
- 6 quart or larger pressure cooker (I used a 6 quart Instant Pot electric PC)
- 1 pound dried elbow macaroni
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
- 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt (or 2 teaspoons table salt)
- 4 cups water
- 1 – 12oz can evaporated milk
- 16 ounces shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
- 6 ounces shredded Parmigiano cheese
Bread Crumb Topping (optional)
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
1. Pressure cook the pasta and spices
Stir the macaroni, butter, mustard, hot pepper sauce, salt, and 4 cups water in the pressure cooker pot. Lock the lid on the pressure cooker and bring the cooker up to high pressure. Cook on high pressure for 4 minutes (both stovetop and electric), then quick release the pressure and remove the lid.
2. Stir in the rest of the ingredients
Turn the heat under the pot down to low (or turn the electric pressure cooker to simmer), and stir in the evaporated milk. Test a piece of pasta by taking a bite – it should be al dente, but cooked through. If the pasta is still tough in the middle, simmer it for a few minutes, until it is tender. Stir in the cheese one handful at a time, stirring constantly and waiting for the current handful to melt before adding the next handful.
3. Top with breadcrumbs and broil
Optional step, if you like a toasted bread crumb topping:Pour the macaroni into a 3 quart broiler-safe dish, patting it down to level out the surface. Sprinkle the panko over the macaroni and cheese in an even layer. Broil the macaroni and cheese on high until the bread crumbs are toasted, about 5 minutes. Check the bread crumbs often – they go from pale brown to burnt in a flash.
- Serve with a bottle of hot sauce at the table. I like Frank’s Red Hot or the smoky flavor of El Yucateco chipotle hot sauce. Oh, and some cheap bubbly and sweet-hot mustard are also nice.
- I have burned too many bread crumbs in my day. I always I set a timer for 1 minute intervals while I’m broiling. That way, if I get distracted (by a homework meltdown…just to pick a hypothetical example), I have the timer to remind me – “Oh no! The breadcrumbs!”
What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
Click here for my other pressure cooker recipes
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