Perfect Macaroni and Cheese

In search for the best and boldest macaroni and cheese dish around, and with a goal of satisfying the Taylor family’s love of macaroni and cheese at Thanksgiving, I decided to make  Martha Stewart’s ‘Perfect Macaroni and Cheese’ recipe.  Most liked it, with a few mentioning that the cheese was indeed, very bold.

Along came Christmas, and upon realizing that Mom’s raved about casseroles were not going to be touched with a 10 foot pole by my beloved J, I decided to make Mac & Cheese once again, replacing gruyere with goat cheese (per the request of J).  He even grabbed a bag of fried jalapenos to top off the dish ;)

It was good, really good.

Ingredients:

Serves 12

  • 6 slices good-quality white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces (I forgot to buy and attempted to substitute wheat bread but it was a flop.  Omit if you don’t have white bread)
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more to coat dish
  • 5 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar
  • 2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyere or 1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) grated pecorino Romano or any other bold cheese that you desire!
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni

Macaroni and Cheese

Preparation:

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside.

Place bread pieces in a medium bowl; melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour butter into the bowl with bread, and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside.

2. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk.

3. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.  Slowly pour hot milk into flour-butter mixture while whisking. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.

butter collage

4. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyere or 1 cup pecorino Romano. Set cheese sauce aside.

Macaroni and Cheese 5

Macaroni and Cheese 6

Macaroni and Cheese 7

5. Fill a large saucepan with water. Bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 fewer minutes than manufacturer’s directions, until outside of pasta is cooked and inside is underdone. (Different brands of macaroni cook at different rates; be sure to read the instructions.) Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.

Macaroni and Cheese 96. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar and 1/2 cup “special cheese”; scatter breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes; serve.

Macaroni and Cheese10

Macaroni and Cheese12

I removed most of the bread crumbs and left the few ‘fried jalapenos’ on top.

Enjoy!

-D

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