Friday, June 6, 2008

Macaroni and Cheese 101

The photo of this mac and cheese, reheated from last night, does not do the dish any justice. Last night it came out of the oven in a baking dish bubbling around a golden crust. I made dinner for the two of us and needed a quick and easy recipe after a long day at work, and it really seemed like the last time I could make this dish for the season since its going to hit 90 degrees here in New York this weekend!

This recipe is courtesy of Ms. Martha Stewart, who has never failed me when it comes to recipes; all that I make of hers turns out perfectly. The recipe is lovingly referred to by her fans as Macaroni and Cheese 101. It is, indeed, the perfect introductory recipe for a favorite food.

I am so glad he enjoyed it, and I think next time I am going to make it a bit spicier for both our tastes and add more cayenne pepper along with some jalapenos. The perfect pairing for this dish was not wine - he made rum and cokes with Bacardi black cherry rum!

Martha Stewart's Classic Macaroni and Cheese
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for dish
6 good white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces (I used Pepperidge Farm)
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste (I will add more next time - its a nice kick)
4 1/2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese, (about 18 ounces)
2 cups grated Gruyere cheese, (about 8 ounces) or 1 1/4 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese (about 5 ounces) (I used the Pecorino Romano)
1 pound elbow macaroni
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place bread in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour butter into bowl with bread, and toss. Set breadcrumbs aside.
In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, whisking, 1 minute.
While whisking, slowly pour in hot milk. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.
Remove pan from heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar cheese, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyere or 1 cup Pecorino Romano; set cheese sauce aside.
Fill a large saucepan with water; bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 minutes less than manufacturer's directions, until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone. (Different brands of macaroni cook at different rates; be sure to read the instructions.) Transfer macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce
Pour mixture into prepared dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup Gruyere or 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano, and breadcrumbs over top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool 5 minutes; serve hot.


The Phosgene Kid said...

My only venture into mac and cheese has been to use the creamy version on the back of the box. Yours looks much better...

Wonder if Martha learned the recipe in the prison kitchen?? Bet she makes great beans.

Frumteacher said...

That's really funny, I also made mac 'n' cheese from the oven on Friday. I put it in a rectangular cake pan and cut slices from it, which looked kind of cute.

she said...

that looks good. i too add a dash of nutmeg which makes it -its more aromatic than flavor. its just so perfect a food. i use essentially the same cheeses but i dont add bread. i use half and half instead of milk. hey, you didnt need that heart did you? grrrerhahahaha


Anonymous Boxer said...

damn my dairy intolerance! I'm making mac n' cheese tonight. I like to use a combo of strong and "weak" cheeses with mine and the cayenne is a great idea.

Leigh said...

Next time you make this, would you please ship me some? My heart and stomach cannot take the torture of enduring such teasers!


Leigh said...

I came back to look at it again. I started licking the computer screen. Now I know it is love. Oh, that Mac and cheese! I cannot stop thinking about it. The love an dcomfort it would most certainly give.

be still