Creamy Macaroni & Cheese
recipe from Cook’s Illustrated
1 pound elbow macaroni
1 tablespoon table salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons powdered mustard
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
5 cups milk (whole or 2% – I used whole)
8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (2 cups)
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups)
1 teaspoon table salt
2-3 slices of good quality white bread
2 tablespoons butter, melted
For the bread topping: cube 2-3 slices of good quality white bread. Toss with melted butter and saute in a pan over medium high heat until slightly toasted; set aside.
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.
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.
Transfer mixture to a broiler-safe 9 by 13-inch baking dish and sprinkle evenly with bread cubes. 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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