Stovetop mac and cheese recipes abound online; their key feature is to combine some kind of reduced dairy mixture (usually cream or evaporated milk) and a high-moisture, easy-to-melt mild cheddar to form a thick cheese sauce that doesn’t break. To make the dish a somewhat balanced meal, I throw in frozen peas and cubed ham at the end of cooking.
The recipe below takes the heavy cream approach; while the pasta cooks, simmer the cream until it has reduced by about half and has turned thick and velvety. Once the pasta is done and the cream reduced, pull it all together in the pasta pot: In goes the cream over low heat, followed by the cheese in large handfuls. Let it melt gradually, then whisk in my homage to the blue box — a knob of butter — followed by the pasta, peas and ham. The sauce will be quite thick, so you’ll need to give the whole thing several serious stirs to make sure each piece of pasta is evenly coated with cheese. Serve immediately — stovetop mac is best served as hot as possible.