Posted by Michael, October 12th, 2011
The other day while playing the “what do you want for dinner?” “I don’t know, what do you want for dinner?” game with Rebecca, she finally responded with “mac and cheese.”
And I was all like, YES! WE’RE HAVING THE CHEAP CRAPPY STUFF!
Then I read the rest of the email where she suggested we find a recipe.
You see, Rebecca and I don’t argue much nor really disagree with one another, but when it comes down to mac and cheese, well, it’s quite different. I like the cheap Kraft is-this-really-cheese stuff. Rebecca likes the fancy Kraft Velveeta shells and cheese. I often lose this battle and we end up going with the Velveeta
crap. But this time it was different, we were going to make it from scratch.
So I went to my trusty source of great blog recipes, The Way the Cookie Crumbles, and found what seemed like a great recipe. But it seemed too ordinary. I went to my back-up, The Curvy Carrot, and found another great macaroni and cheese recipe.
Sure enough, the recipes were identical. And because of that, I’ll keep the recipe identical here, too.
Classic Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 6 to 8, or 10 to 12 as a side.
Bread Crumb Topping
- 6 slices white sandwich bread (good-quality, about 6 ounces), torn into rough pieces
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold), cut into 6 pieces
Pasta and Cheese
- 1 pound elbow macaroni (I had rotini on hand-it worked just as well!)
- 1 tablespoon table salt
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons powdered mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- 5 cups milk (I used whole milk, just to add more calories 😉 )
- 8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese , shredded (2 cups)
- 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese , shredded (2 cups)
- 1 teaspoon table salt
For the bread crumbs: Pulse bread and butter in food processor until crumbs are no larger than 1/8 inch, ten to fifteen 1-second pulses. Set aside.
For the pasta and cheese: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat broiler. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in Dutch oven over high heat. Add macaroni and 1 tablespoon salt; cook until pasta is tender. Drain pasta and set aside in colander.
In now-empty Dutch oven, heat butter over medium-high heat until foaming. Add flour, mustard, and cayenne (if using) and whisk well to combine.
Continue whisking until mixture becomes fragrant and deepens in color, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk; bring mixture to boil, whisking constantly (mixture must reach full boil to fully thicken). Reduce heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened to consistency of heavy cream, about 5 minutes.
Off heat, whisk in cheeses and 1 teaspoon salt until cheeses are fully melted.
Add pasta and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is steaming and heated through, about 6 minutes.
Transfer mixture to broiler-safe 9-by 13-inch baking dish and sprinkle evenly with bread crumbs. Broil until crumbs are deep golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes, rotating pan if necessary for even browning. Cool about 5 minutes, then serve.
This was absolutely delicious and I was quite happy we stayed with this recipe. I think, quite like The Curvy Carrot, I may experiment with some different cheeses the next time. It’s not that this wasn’t good (it was very good), we both felt like it missed a certain creamyness in the cheese flavor we were anticipating — perhaps an alternative to monterey jack or a mild cheddar.