Years ago I followed a link from Johnny Hugel to a now-Internet-Archived recipe for super quick and easy mac and cheese. The secret here was using shmancy molecular gastronomy ingredient called sodium citrate, or “sour salt”, which untangles some proteins to prevent the cheese from breaking into an oily mess. The recipe has shown itself to be quick, easy, and delicious. Most of all, the recipe is easily adaptable, particularly if you’re the sort who ate and loved a lot of Hamburger Helper growing up.
For years now, roughly once a month, I make the quick-mac in one pan while browning some meat (usually ground beef, though it’s also worked great with Beyond or Impossible beef substitute) in another. I tend to go for some sort of flavor profile on the meat (Tex/Mex flavors are popular, but the options are only limited by your pantry and spice cabinet) and bring it all together in the end. It’s a favorite with my kids, and I’m craving the leftovers from last night right-the-heck now.
If you try this, just make sure sodium citrate is labeled “food grade”!