When I think of the ultimate in comfort foods, Mac and Cheese always comes to mind. Now that there is a slight chill in the air we’re ready for this recipe. I have made it for big crowds, and just the two of us. Not the neon orange kind from the box (although when I make it for my grandkids it’s really not all that bad) but the creamy homemade oh so soothing one. I love the creaminess and the richness. You can’t really eat too much of it because of the richness. I just love the crunchy burnt pieces on top, and the smooth texture underneath. I also love it cold from the fridge, which can be a very dangerous thing to have around. So invite a bunch of people over (this recipe is perfect for Sunday get-togethers) and it will disappear. You’ll have just enough left over for a little midnight raid.
1 lb. elbow macaroni or Cavatappi
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1 quart milk , I actually used Skim Plus and it was just fine
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
12 oz. grated Gruyere cheese (approx. 4 cups)
8 oz. sharp or extra sharp grated cheddar (approx. 2 cups)
8 tbsp. unsalted butter (1 stick), divided into 6 tbsp. for sauce and 2 tbsp. for topping with bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg I love freshly grated Nutmeg, either one will do
1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs (5 slices of bread with crusts removed. I use whole wheat but white is fine. I do this using a food processor with a steel blade. It’s quick and easy.)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Cook macaroni according to directions on the box. Drain well. I let it sit and get good and dry while I prepare the cheese sauce.
Heat the milk in a small saucepan but do not boil it. Melt 6 tbsp. of butter in a large pot and add the flour, then the hot milk and cook for a few minutes until the sauce is thickened and smooth. I continue stirring with a wooden spoon during this process. When it is thick and smooth, take it off the heat, and add the cheeses, salt, pepper and nutmeg. I then place the dry macaroni back in the pot I cooked it in and pour the cheese sauce on top. Stir well. I then spray a 3 quart baking casserole dish with Pam and pour the macaroni and cheese into it. Melt the remaining butter (in the microwave is fine), combine it with the fresh bread crumbs and sprinkle the mixture on top of the macaroni. Bake for approx. 35 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on top.
*serves about 8 – 10 depending on crowd, and if it’s a side or main, I served with a light green salad with balsamic dressing.