Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Classic Macaroni & Cheese

After reading the reviews on Lindrusso's blog, I decided that I HAD to make this for Marc - (1) because Marc loves cheese almost as much as he loves me, (2) because I love this cookbook - everything we have made so far from it has been a total success, and (3) I score brownie points whenever I use this cookbook since he bought it for me for Christmas! Ok that last one was a joke...all joking aside...

This recipe is definitely going into our regular weeknight recipe rotation since it was very easy to make. It was also creamy, smooth, and VERY cheesy! Of course, Marc loved THAT! We used 3 cups of cheddar cheese and 1 cup of gouda. Both, Marc and I, agreed that the next time we would use a very sharp cheddar since the cheddar we used was a tad on the mild side. It was still good but a sharper cheese would put this dish into the amazing category. I also couldn't be bothered to make my own breadcrumbs so I used some italian breadcrumbs I had on hand.

Classic Macaroni and Cheese
The New Best Recipe - Cook's Illustrated

It's crucial to cook the pasta until tender--just past the "al dente" stage. In fact, overcooking is better than undercooking the pasta. Whole, low-fat, and skim milk all work well in this recipe. The recipe can be halved and baked in an 8-inch-square, broilersafe baking dish. If desired, offer celery salt or hot sauce (such as Tabasco) for sprinkling at the table.Serves 6 to 8, or 10 to 12 as a side

Bread Crumb Topping
6 slices white sandwich bread (good-quality, about 6 ounces), torn into rough pieces
3 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold), cut into 6 pieces

Pasta and Cheese
1 pound elbow macaroni
1 tablespoon table salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered mustard
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
5 cups milk
8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese , shredded (2 cups)
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese , shredded (2 cups)
1 teaspoon table salt

1. For the bread crumbs: Pulse bread and butter in food processor until crumbs are no larger than 1/8 inch, ten to fifteen 1-second pulses. Set aside.

2. For the pasta and cheese: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat broiler. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in Dutch oven over high heat. Add macaroni and 1 tablespoon salt; cook until pasta is tender. Drain pasta and set aside in colander.

3. In now-empty Dutch oven, heat butter over medium-high heat until foaming. Add flour, mustard, and cayenne (if using) and whisk well to combine. Continue whisking until mixture becomes fragrant and deepens in color, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk; bring mixture to boil, whisking constantly (mixture must reach full boil to fully thicken). Reduce heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened to consistency of heavy cream, about 5 minutes. Off heat, whisk in cheeses and 1 teaspoon salt until cheeses are fully melted. Add pasta and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is steaming and heated through, about 6 minutes.

4. Transfer mixture to broiler-safe 9-by 13-inch baking dish and sprinkle evenly with bread crumbs. Broil until crumbs are deep golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes, rotating pan if necessary for even browning. Cool about 5 minutes, then serve.

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