I had a different recipe planned for today, and then…we were hit by a blizzard! Like everyone, I was snowed in, and suddenly nothing sounded better than the classic comfort of macaroni & cheese. (Except reading in front of the fireplace with a glass of wine—also very, very good.)
This recipe is a Martha Stewart classic. Say what you will about Martha, she makes a mean mac & cheese. Rich and sinfully cheesy, this version is a real crowd-pleaser (if you want proof, google it and spend hours reading the glowing comments on various websites). I’m all about the contrast of the crunchy breadcrumb topping with the silky pasta underneath, but you can skip the topping if you’re a smooth purist.
Did I mention that this is rich and sinfully cheesy? Earn your appetite by shoveling the driveway. Serve with a crisp, tart salad to foil the decadence. And be reassured that a small portion is utterly satisfying.
In fact, a whole pan easily serves 12, so if you’re not feeding an army, separate the batch into two pans, bake off one pan, and freeze the other to bake later. Works beautifully (obviously plan on extra baking time for the frozen version), especially when you find yourself snowed in with nothing in the house…but a pan of mac & cheese and a hot oven! Nice.
Photo by Stephanie Meyer
Photo by Stephanie Meyer
Martha Stewart’s Macaroni and Cheese
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) butter
6 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4-1/2-inch pieces
5 1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. coarse salt, plus more for water
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
4 1/2 c. (18 oz.) grated sharp white cheddar cheese
2 c. (8 oz.) grated Gruyere cheese
1 lb. elbow macaroni
Preheat oven to 375 degrees 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 Tbsp. butter. Pour the melted butter into the bowl with the bread, and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside.
Warm the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Melt the remaining 6 Tbsp. butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When the butter bubbles, add the flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.
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, 8-12 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 c. cheddar cheese, and 1 1/2 c. Gruyere; set the cheese sauce aside.
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, 2-3 minutes. Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir the macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.
Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 c. cheddar cheese, 1/2 c. Gruyere, and the breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer the dish to a wire rack for 5 minutes; serve.