grannie geek, john legend mac 'n cheese

Some things that happen in life are the work of fate.  I mean, for no reason, there’s some unexpected connection, an unexplained event.  That’s how it happened with for me tonight with John Legend and his recipe for Mac ‘n Cheese.

It is COLD here in Billings.  Seriously cold – below zero temps, strong winds.  The kind of weather that begs for spring now that Christmas and New Year’s are over.  Also begging comfort food.  I had not gone grocery shopping since Richard and I returned from the holidays in Indiana, so my mind was reviewing what I remembered was stored in the refrigerator and pantry.

Like all good Midwest gals, there’s always cheese, macaroni, eggs, and milk.  Eureka!  Mac ‘n Cheese.  And the recipe even called for evaporated milk!  I had some broccoli in bad need of cooking.  Great!

Onto the Internet I went.  For some reason, one of the first to show up out of tens of thousands of recipes for mac ‘n cheese was one John Legend shared with Martha Stewart in 2006.  Hmmm – who’s John Legend?  Today, as I began to write this post, I Googled him.  Lo and behold, John Legend is singing the national anthem for the BCS football game tonight.  I listened to some of the tracks on his website.  Very nice, indeed.  What a coincidence, eh? Out of all the gin joint mac ‘n cheese recipes in the whole world, I landed on his.  Maybe I’m just easy to impress.

Anyway, I was immediately drawn to this luscious, rich casserole, because I didn’t have to make a white sauce to melt the cheese into.  Yes, I was lazy yesterday.  How hard is a white sauce?  In other words, this mac ‘n cheese is SO very easy to put together, and doesn’t disappoint.  I made a few adjustments to accommodate the ingredients on hand, and stuff I prefer to flavor the casserole.

Thank you, John Legend.  Best luck for a stellar performance tonight!

Preheat oven to 375° F.  Coat a 9″ x 13″ dish with butter, or cooking spray.  Set aside.

grannie geek, john legend mac 'n cheese, ingredients

Simple ingredients.

grannie geek, john legend mac 'n cheese, macaroni

Cook macaroni according to package directions.  I usually undercook the pasta I use in casseroles, so it doesn’t become gummy as it bakes.  Drain the pasta, return it to the pot, add butter, and stir until melted.  Set aside.

Grate the cheeses, and mix together in a medium bowl.  Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, add the evaporated milk and milk.  Add the eggs, and whisk until blended.  Add the seasonings, and whisk until blended.  Set aside.

grannie geek, john legend mac 'n cheese, layers

Put 1/3 of the macaroni on the bottom of the casserole dish.  Sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheese mixture.  Repeat the layers, ending with a cheese layer.

grannie geek, john legend mac 'n cheese, casserole assembled

Once all the layers are assembled, pour the milk-egg mixture over the whole thing.

grannie geek, john legend mac 'n cheese, casserole

Pop in the oven, and bake for 45-50 minutes, until the top crust is golden brown.  Remove to a cooling rack, and allow to rest for 10 minutes.  Serve.

John Legend Mac 'n Cheese
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A simple mac 'n cheese, luscious and rich as a main dish or a side
Recipe type: Main Dish, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Serves: 8
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked
  • 1 12-oz can evaporated milk
  • 1¼ cup whole milk, 2%, or lowfat
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ teaspoon seasoned salt
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic granulated garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • dash of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 8-oz packages extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 8-oz package gruyere cheese, grated
  1. Cook elbow macaroni according to package directions. (I usually undercook mine for about a minute, so the pasta doesn't get gummy as the casserole is baking - the macaroni will absorb liquid from the other ingredients.)
  2. Drain the macaroni, and return to the pot. Add the butter, and stir to melt. Set aside until ready to assemble the casserole.
  3. In a medium bowl, pour in the milk and evaporated milk. Add the eggs, and whisk. Add the seasonings: seasoned salt, granulated garlic, black pepper, cayenne pepper, nutmeg. Whisk until all ingredients are blended. Set aside.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9" x 13" casserole dish with butter or coat with cooking spray.
  5. Line the bottom of the casserole dish with ⅓ of the macaroni. Sprinkle ⅓ of the cheeses. Repeat using all the macaroni and cheese, ending with a top layer of cheese.
  6. Pour the milk-egg mixture evenly over the macaroni and cheese.
  7. Pop into the oven for 45-50 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Remove to a cooling rack. Allow to rest for 10 minutes, and serve.
I did not have bread crumbs in my pantry. If I had, would have sprinkled ½ cup of crumbs browned in 2 Tablespoons of butter over the top of the casserole.