Baked Macaroni & Cheese

I made my “famous” macaroni and cheese a few weeks ago when I had friends over for dinner.  Aside from grilled cheese and tater tots, mac n cheese (any kind but preferably homemade) is my favorite comfort food.   The version I make is very similar to my mom’s recipe, which is still my all-time favorite, and it can be customized to your liking.  I usually use part cheddar part Roth Grand Cru gruyère, but you can use any combination of cheese you’d like.  This last time I made it I used extra sharp white cheddar and sharp cheddar.  Since I normally try to limit my cheese intake, this dish is a splurge, but the next time I make it I plan to incorporate some butternut squash puree and substitute Lisanatti almond cheddar for the cheese.  If you’d rather have a creamier version, you could skip baking it, and just serve as soon as you mix the cooked pasta with the white sauce.  Do you have a favorite mac n cheese recipe?

1 pound elbow macaroni
3 cups 2% milk
1/4 cup butter plus 1 tablespoon
1/c cup flour
2 cups grated extra sharp cheddar
1 1/2 cups grated Grand Cru
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

img_5380Preheat oven to 350º F.  Bring water to a boil in a large pot.  Add kosher salt and cook pasta until tender.  Drain pasta and transfer to a large bowl.  Drizzle with about a tablespoon of olive oil and toss to coat.  To make the white sauce, in a small saucepan over low heat, bring milk to a simmer.   Remove from heat.  In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt 1/4 cup butter constantly stirring with a whisk.  Lower heat if necessary so you don’t burn the butter.  Once butter is melted, whisk in the flour and continue to whisk until the mixture just bubbles.  Do not brown.  Slowly add the warmed milk and continue whisking until there are no lumps.  Bring sauce to a boil, then reduce to low and season with salt and pepper.  Continue whisking until the sauce reaches the consistency of heavy cream.  Remove from heat and whisk in the cheddar and Grand Cru.  Mix until smooth.  Pour over the pasta and toss to coat.  Transfer the pasta mixture to a large baking dish.  In a small bowl, melt 1 tablespoon of butter and combine with the panko breadcrumbs.  Spread on top of the macaroni and cheese.  Bake until the breadcrumbs brown and the edges of the macaroni and cheese are bubbly.


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