Everyone loves mac & cheese. It is the ultimate comfort food, after all. Most people have their preferred recipe or way to cook mac & cheese. Reena was one of those people who usually ate the prepackaged mac & cheese. The horror! She didn’t believe that mac & cheese could be a main dish, but I countered that was because she had never had the right kind of mac & cheese. Sadly, there are plenty of poor representations of mac & cheese.
My mom had experimented with many types of mac & cheese and recommended this recipe. She said it was easy and one of the tastiest versions of mac & cheese she had made. In the recipe, we substituted the Gouda for Gruyere and used whole wheat sliced bread instead. Both substitutions tasted great. It was a hit. After eating it for our third meal (warning: it makes lots of mac & cheese), Reena happily exclaimed that mac & cheese wasn’t so bad after all. She said she understood why people loved it so much and would gladly eat it as a main course. I couldn’t agree more.
The cheese sauce
Pre mac & cheese
The final product!
Martha Stewart’s Creamy Mac-and-Cheese
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living Cookbook: The Original Classics via Smitten Kitchen
Now, please be warned, this makes a ton-a mac-and-cheese. Not interested in going on an all-mac, all-the-time diet this week, but wishing to try the recipe at last, I halved it and guess what? We still had three dinner’s worth of mac-and-cheese, or a full six servings. Which is, of course, what the recipe said it would make if halved, but I was in denial.
This is particularly delicious with a big, crunchy salad and a steamed vegetable, like green beans or broccoli.
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for casserole
6 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to l/2-inch pieces
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more for water
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar cheese
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gouda (originally called for Gruyère or 1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) grated Pecorino Romano cheese, but the Gouda we had on hand worked just fine)
1 pound elbow macaroni
1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place the bread in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour the melted butter into the bowl with the bread, and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside.
2. Warm the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Melt the remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When the butter bubbles, add the flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.
3. While whisking, slowly pour in the hot milk a little at a time to keep mixture smooth. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick, 8 to 12 minutes.
4. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar cheese, and 1 1/2 cups Gouda; set the cheese sauce aside.
5. Cover a large pot of salted water, and bring to a boil. Cook the macaroni until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir the macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.
6. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup Gouda, and the breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes (though we needed a bit more time to get it brown, but your oven may vary). Transfer the dish to a wire rack for 5 minutes; serve.