Of course, you really can't go wrong with any macaroni and cheese recipe. It's just good stuff. And I certainly have a fond place in my heart for that blue box that goes back to the days when I was a kid. But ever since I found the following recipe in the recent Gourmet cookbook, this has been my main-squeeze-macaroni-and-cheese.
Ingredients for Topping:
- 1/4 stick butter (I use 1/2 stick), melted
- 2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs) or course dry bread crumbs (I always use panko)
- 1 cup of coarsely grated extra-sharp cheddar (about 4 ounces)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 3/4 cups whole milk
- 3/4 cups heavy cream
- 4 cups coarsely grated extra-sharp cheddar (about 1 pound)
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 3/4 pound elbow macaroni
- Put a rack in the middle of oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 3-quart shallow baking dish.
- Make the topping: Stir together the melted butter, panko, and cheese in a bowl until well combined. Set aside.
- Make the sauce: Melt butter in a medium-sized heavy pot over moderately low heat. Whisk in flour and red pepper flakes and cook, whisking for 3 minutes to make a roux, the base of the cheese sauce. Whisk in the milk in a slow stream, then bring the sauce to a boil, whisking constantly. Simmer, whisking occasionally, for 3 minutes. Stir in the cream, cheddar, mustard, salt, and pepper. Remove pot from heat and cover surface of sauce with wax paper to prevent a skin from forming.
- Cook the macaroni & assemble the dish: Cook macaroni in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Scoop out one cup of pasta cooking water and set aside. Drain macaroni. In a large bowl, stir together macaroni, reserved cooking water, and sauce. Transfer to the baking dish. (The mixture will have a significant amount of liquid.) Sprinkle the topping evenly over the macaroni. Bake until the top is golden and bubbling, 25 to 35 minutes.
Do you feel like celebrating? Or maybe you're feeling a little blue? Either way, this dish will be just the right fix. A good fit for many occasions, there's nothing like homemade macaroni and cheese!
Recipe © 2004 by Conde Nast Publications.