Skip to main content

Ina Garten had already done enough for her fans by showing them how to make the best “quarantine cosmopolitan cocktails.”

Ina Garten
Ina Garten | Brad Barket/Getty Images for The New Yorker

Now, she’s instructing stovetop-weary shelter-in-placers on making a dish everyone in the family will thank them for, with as little time spent in the kitchen as possible.

It’s her Overnight Mac and Cheese, and it’s divine.

Ina Garten is a source of comfort and familiarity for many these days

As with many other celebrity chefs, Garten has turned to social media to provide her followers with helpful ideas, fun recipes, and just with updates on how the Hamptons resident and her husband, Jeffrey, are doing throughout the current global health crisis.

In speaking with Garten, PBS correspondent William Brangham remarked about the 72-year-old celebrated home cook’s fans and their eager response to her Instagram posts, almost as though a dear family member were sharing with them.

Garten told PBS, “I actually felt very connected to people, and what problems they had that maybe I could help solve. But the other thing that happened was, it gave me purpose and order.”

What she loves making most – ‘It feels familiar’

The star of the “Barefoot Contessa” Food Network show talked with the nonprofit broadcaster about the things she keeps in her pantry the most (“dried beans and rice and lentils, and . . . legumes that last for a long time”) and about substitutions in cooking (shallots if you don’t have onions, basil if you don’t have scallions).

She talked as well about what she really enjoys making, especially in stressful, uncertain times as the ones we’re living through now.

“I love making a big pot of chicken stock. It makes me feel good, makes the house smell good. It feels familiar. And then I store it in the freezer, so I can make soups and stews.”

The secret to Garten’s overnight macaroni and cheese

It’s been fun trying to guess what Garten will post about next. This week it was the unbelievable sounding overnight macaroni and cheese. “Unbelievable” because it doesn’t seem that any kind of pasta kept overnight would fare very well, that it might instead turn out gloppy and overcooked. Not so.

Garten’s Overnight Macaroni and Cheese

The New York City-born Garten said on her post, “Mac & Cheese is the ultimate comfort food but this overnight version is so easy – you don’t even need to make a bechamel! It’s the ultimate, ultimate comfort food dinner! Recipe on! #staysafe”

As for the recipe, it’s extremely simple, using items you probably have in your pantry right now: elbow macaroni, heavy cream, grated Cheddar cheese, grated Gruyere cheese (or just use more Cheddar!), ground nutmeg, melted butter, and fresh bread crumbs.

Garten’s secret for the “overnight” part of the recipe? Undercook the pasta.

She says in her recipe, “Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add two tablespoons salt and the macaroni and cook for exactly four minutes.” Then you drain the pasta and toss it with the cream and cheeses, and into the refrigerator it goes for twenty-four hours.

When you’re ready to make it, keep it out for an hour (to bring it to room temperature), and put it in a preheated 400 degree oven.

It’s a great recipe that you can prep the night before and enjoy the next day with minimal effort.

An Instagram fan of Garten’s captured how so many feel about the Contessa right now, saying in reply to one of her posts, “Oh my goodness I love you @inagarten … my favorite chef in the whole world. Your show and your food are so comforting to me during this time.”

Read more: ‘Barefoot Contessa’: Why Ina Garten Always Wears Blue Shirts