Wednesday, January 28, 2009

martha's macaroni and cheese 101

this is HANDS DOWN the best homemade mac and cheese i've ever had. the fact that it was made by my mom didn't hurt!

8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for casserole
6 slices good white bread, crusts removed, torn into ¼ to ½-inch pieces
5½ C milk
½ C all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt, plus more for water
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
4½ C (about 18 oz) grated sharp white cheddar cheese
2 C (about 8 oz) grated Gruyère cheese or 1¼ C (about 5 oz) grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 lb elbow macaroni
Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Melt 2 T of butter and pour over bread in a medium bowl; toss. Set bread crumbs aside.

Warm milk in saucepan over medium heat. Melt remaining butter in high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute. Whisk flour mixture constantly, while adding hot milk a little at a time. Continue cooking and whisking until mixture bubbles and thickens, 8 to 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, peppers, 3 C cheddar cheese and 1½ C Gruyère cheese (or 1 C Pecorino Romano cheese). Set cheese sauce aside. Cook macaroni in large pot of boiling salted water until outside of pasta is cooked and inside is underdone, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain macaroni under cold running water. Stir macaroni into cheese sauce and pour mixture into buttered casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining cheeses and bread crumbs over top. Bake until golden, about 30 minutes.

Transfer disk to wire rack for 5 minutes Serves 12.

Note: For lots of crust, bake in a broad, shallow casserole dish. Recipe divides easily in half (use a 1½-quart casserole dish).

***the only change i would make to this recipe would be to add some ground mustard! i can imagine this with really crispy bacon mixed in... yum!

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