Mac & Cheese

29 Nov

This is seriously good mac & cheese.  I’ve tried other fancy mac & cheese recipes- and you know what? I don’t need gruyere & goat cheese in mine.   I love that this recipe features Cheddar, Monterey Jack & breadcrumbs.   You basically just make this super creamy cheese sauce, put the bread crumbs on top, and broil for 3-5 mins.  No real baking time.   I spoke to Jenna, the chef, who confirmed that a rue (flour and butter) plus cheese is the way to do it.  Special thanks to Beezy (aka Chrissy B.) for requesting a mac recipe for her Thanksgiving potluck.

America’s Test Kitchen Recipe
Notes from those folks: Recipe can be halved and baked in an 8×8 broiler safe pan.  Be sure to cook your pasta until tender, just past al dente. Actually better to err on side of overcooked than undercooked here. And any kind of milk- whole, skim, low-fat works.  [I think go hard or go home- so went whole]  Btw, you apparently cannot put pyrex in the broiler.  I used a porcelain baking dish.  If you have nothing broiler safe, a quick bake at 500 degrees should be able to get you that browning.   I was stressing about what size pan to use… and I ended up fitting the whole recipe in maybe a 9×9.

***** NOTE: dear tessa, why do you always forget this? This makes a fuck ton of cheese sauce. Enough for 1.5 pounds macaroni at least. So scale up on the pasta amount or can cut down on the cheese/milk mixture if you’d prefer.

6 slices white sandwich bread (good-quality, about 6 ounces), torn into rough pieces
3 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold), cut into 6 pieces

Mac & Cheese
1 pound elbow macaroni
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 (see note)
8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese , shredded (2 cups)
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese , shredded (2 cups)
1 teaspoon table salt

For 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 mac:

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.

3 Responses to “Mac & Cheese”

  1. Anonymous November 29, 2010 at 12:37 pm #

    Delish. And I, anonymous, who shall remain nameless and entirely incognito, do declare that macaroni and cheese is the most delicious thing on the planet. This looks yumtastic.

  2. Rock Kitaro December 7, 2010 at 11:48 am #

    Very nice! Although I’m wondering if the cheeses are 8 ounces which is 1 cup or the 2 cups that you mentioned in parenthesis.

    • tessa December 8, 2010 at 12:07 pm #

      I bought 8oz blocks of cheese. I suppose it is 2 cups if not packed down– but I’d stick to measuring by weight.

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