Macaroni and cheese has been a life long favorite for me but this is the “grown up” version. I’ve been making this since we first got married (15 years ago…!). I think it was a 101 recipe in Living magazine. It remains our go to comfort meal when we need to indulge in recipes made with white flour and hearty cheesy yumminess. My sister in law who is nursing her month old baby girl requested this and of course I was happy to oblige (and make a serving for us too, of course:) It’s not whole grain (although I did use whole grain white bread for the top, whatever that means), but you can’t deny a nursing mother of her carbs can you??
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for dish
- 6 slices good white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces
- 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
- 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)
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. While whisking, slowly pour in hot milk. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.
4. 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.
5. 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
6. 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.