Macaroni & Cheese
Updated: May 16, 2020
The real perfection in this classic casserole comes from cheese selection plus two key techniques....and one of them even saves you time!
Who can resist a hearty helping of homemade “mac & cheese,” with its creamy consistency, chewy texture, and savory flavor? The key to making this classic is selecting quality cheese. Experiment with everything from goat cheese to Gorgonzola. Once you make macaroni and cheese from scratch, the boxed version will never do again.
Equipment: small saucepan; large saucepan or stockpot; colander or strainer; dry and wet measuring cups; measuring spoons; box grater; wooden spoon; casserole or baking pan
1 pound uncooked macaroni, cavatappi or penne rigate
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
4 cups whole milk 1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
2½ cups shredded Gruyere cheese, divided
2½ cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, divided
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Cook noodles to al dente, but not more, and drain. Rinse with cold water to prevent them from sticking together.
3. Warm the milk in a small saucepan and set aside.
“Use whole milk and be sure to warm it before you make the roux. Why? What’s the difference? A smooth and evenly thick sauce versus a gritty and lumpy mess. Adding whole milk, which has the right amount of fat to facilitate the thickening of the sauce with the roux, directly from the fridge to the pan will yield the latter. We generally do not add cold liquids to hot pans in the cooking process. That's the ILOC way ... the right way!”
4. Next, make the roux (cooked butter and flour). Melt the butter in a large saucepan or stockpot over low heat. Stir in the flour, mustard, and Worcestershire. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is smooth and bubbling, at least one minute.
5. Remove the pan from the heat for a moment and stir in the warmed milk. Return to the heat and bring the mixture to a gentle boil, stirring constantly to create a smooth, lump-free sauce. Reduce the heat to a simmer, add the salt/pepper/nutmeg, and continue to stir the mixture until thickened to the point of coating the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat.
6. Stir in 2 cups of each cheese until melted and well incorporated.
7. Gently stir drained macaroni into the cheese sauce. Pour into a casserole dish. Top with the remaining ½ cup of each cheese.
8. Bake uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes, or until bubbly and lightly browned.
Makes 8 servings.