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Better Than Your Mama's Macaroni and Cheese


I have been making this recipe in one form or another for well over thirty years. It has continually evolved. I think the batch I made last week for my Grandsons was the best ever. It had a new ingredient...bacon. I had cooked some bacon for breakfast and had some beautifully crisp leftover strips. When I assembled the macaroni and cheese, it seemed a natural addition. It was perfect. Another nice addition would be tomato slices on top of the bread crumb mixture. This is one of my most requested recipes.

Serves 12

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for casserole dish
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more for water
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated cheddar cheese
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyère or 1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 pound  macaroni (I use Rotini or Penne or elbows, any shape that will hold the cheese sauce well)

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside.

2.  Cook pasta for 7 minutes.  Do not overcook.  Drain.  Rinse with cold water to stop further cooking.  Leave sitting in sink in colander.

3.  Melt the remaining the 8 tablespoons butter in the same pan in which you cooked the pasta (why dirty another pan to make the sauce, that's just silly) over medium heat. When the butter bubbles, add the flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.

4. While whisking, slowly pour in the milk a little at a time to keep mixture smooth. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick, 8 to 12 minutes.

5. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 4 cups cheddar cheese, and 2 cups Gruyère (or 1 cup Pecorino Romano); Gently stir until cheese melts; set the cheese sauce aside.

6. . Stir the macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.

7. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle 1 1/2 cup breadcrumbs mixed with 3 T melted butter over the top.  Bake at 375 degrees until browned and bubbly.

Reader Comments (1)

That's some seriously good looking Mac & Cheese!! I bookmarked that!


March 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLRuthers

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