We usually host Christmas dinner for my side of the family and have all my aunts and uncles and cousins over for dinner. They love, love, love mac and cheese and is always asking me to make it for them. I have tried several recipes for them and have never been quite happy with the results. I just never found one creamy enough, it always seemed too dry. Well, I finally found a winner! I came across it on Smitten Kitchen, she had a version from Martha Stewart. Just looking at her pictures made me drool!
I typically don’t like the crunchy toppings that is usually seen on mac and cheese so I just left it out. Also, I had some leftover cheeses from other dishes I was making so I switched out some of the cheeses, it is denoted by the * in the list. I don’t know if that made a difference but my family couldn’t get enough of it! This was a great recipe and I’ll be making this again and again.
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 (I used 2% 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 (I just took it out)
4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar cheese
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyere or 1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) grated Pecorino Romano cheese
*14 ounces shredded Mild Cheddar Cheese
*4 ounces shredded Colby JackMonterey Jack cheese
*5 ounces shredded Gruyere
*3 ounces grated Pecorino Romano
1 pound elbow macaroni
*My own adaptations
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 GruyÃ¨re (or 1 cup Pecorino Romano); 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 Gruyere (or 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano), 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.