So how does it work? As the pasta cooks down in the water, it releases starch which is then concentrated and acts as a binder, similar to the technique used in this Cacio e Pepe recipe. The addition of evaporated milk provides proteins which help to bind the cheese and starchy liquid, creating an instantly creamy sauce.
Here I've used regular pasta, but I suggest using macaroni elbows as they will cook much quicker and this recipe is supposed to be fast! The key in the cooking process is not to let the milk scorch, because if it does the texture of this sauce will go grainy. Make sure to keep the heat low and keep stirring once you've added your cheese. I used an extra sharp Vermont white cheddar for this recipe, but your cheese options are truly limitless!
3 Ingredient Stove Top Mac and Cheese, recipe by Kenji Lopez
- 6 ounces (170g) elbow macaroni
- 6 ounces (180ml) evaporated milk
- 6 ounces (170g) grated mild or medium cheddar cheese, or any good melting cheese, such as Fontina, Gruyère, or Jack
Place macaroni in a medium saucepan or skillet and add just enough cold water to cover. Add a pinch of salt and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Continue to cook, stirring, until water has been almost completely absorbed and macaroni is just shy of al dente, about 6 minutes.
Immediately add evaporated milk and bring to a boil. Add cheese. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring continuously, until cheese is melted and liquid has reduced to a creamy sauce, about 2 minutes longer. Season to taste with more salt and serve immediately.