Awhile back, I made an excellent platter of mac and cheese, using the methods that Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot outline in their book Ideas in Food. Basically, the “methods” boil down to two very simple things: using evaporated milk instead of a roux for the base of the cheese sauce, and soaking the dried elbows for an hour before cooking them. Variations abound (you could incorporate mushrooms—or, better, lardons or bacon—into the sauce or bread crumb crust), but the base is simple enough that you can pull it off in half an hour, if you have presoaked the pasta. So. There is no excuse for not fattening up for winter.
The can of milk imparts a carmelized richness to the dish with no added effort, and soaking the macaroni for an hour does something to the pasta that makes it that much more toothsome: al dente, sure, but also pleasantly pliant under teeth. And both are extremely easy to incorporate into mac-and-cheese recipes.
But swapping out the milk for the roux makes me wonder what else can be put together in this fashion. I used to make a lot of creamed tuna by combining a roux with garlic, onion, and the contents of a Chicken of the Sea can; maybe a smaller can of condensed milk would work there too. Or, maybe potato gratin could be that much easier.