Recipe: Southern cafeteria-style mac ’n cheese
Inspired by my trip to Nashville, where I had tasty meals at both Arnold’s Country Kitchen and Hattie B’s Hot Chicken, here’s a recipe for mac ’n cheese. I had this dish at both restaurants—Arnold’s makes a pretty classic one, while Hattie B’s adds pimento cheese.
Funny story: during one of my NMO attacks years ago, I was put on several days of intravenous corticosteroids, whose side effects include insomnia, water retention, and increased appetite. For days, all I craved was instant mac ’n cheese—you know, the kind that comes with a packet of neon orange powder that magically turns into gooey cheese after you add hot water. I even went to Costco and bought a bulk box of the stuff. I just couldn’t get enough. Thinking back on it now, it’s pretty disgusting. But, hey, it was what comforted me at the time.
I don’t remember the last time I made macaroni and cheese from a box. Nowadays, there are two types of mac ’n cheese I make: either the more gourmet baked macaroni and cheese with sharp cheddar and panko breadcrumbs (notice how I refer to it by its propername, “macaroni and cheese”), or the one I’m sharing with you below (dubbed mac ’n cheese). This mac ’n cheese is more down-home, more comfort style. It’s the kind you’d find sitting in a hotel pan behind the sneeze guard in some cafeteria down south. It reminds me of my childhood, when my mama used to reward me with a trip to Luby’s after my Saturday morning piano lesson.