Each spoonful of this baked macaroni and cheese is an old fashioned delight of creamy sauce, tender macaroni, a scatter of crispy breadcrumbs, and a forest of gooey cheese strings stretching from casserole to serving spoon. Gramma would approve.
3cupssharp cheddar cheeseThis is about ¾ pound 1 cup shredded, the rest cubed
1cupdiced Swiss cheeseabout ¼ pound
2cupsbreadcrumbsPanko works great - or use crushed Ritz crackers
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Cook the macaroni in salted water until very tender - drain and set aside.
In a large, heavy saucepan melt the butter until it foams.
Add the flour mixed with salt and pepper and whisk until blended. (This is a roux)
Cook, whisking constantly, until the roux is a very light golden brown, moving the mixture around the pan constantly so it doesn’t scorch
Mix milk and cream together.
Pour milk mixture in slowly, whisking constantly.
Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and cook while stirring until the mixture thickens – just a few minutes.
Stir in mustard powder if using.
Add about a ¼ cup of the hot mixture to the beaten egg a tablespoon at a time, beating well so the egg doesn’t curdle.
Add the warm milk and egg mixture back into the mixture in the pan, whisking constantly. Cook for a minute or two.
Stir in 1 cup of the sharp cheddar and 1 ½ cups of the medium cheddar until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
Add the macaroni to a prepared baking dish (sprayed with non-stick spray).
Cover with the sauce and stir to blend.
Add the cheese cubes and stir in.
Top with bread crumbs.
Drizzle with melted butter.
Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbling.
Let the casserole stand for five minutes before serving.
This baked mac and cheese is full of old fashioned goodness, crispy, buttery bread crumbs, and those tell-tale strands of gooey cheese. It's the ultimate comfort food.The main things to remember are:
The cheesiness comes from two kinds of cheese used in two different ways. You can use more varieties if you like.
Grate the cheese from a block of cheese - it will have a creamier texture when it melts.
I like to use Panko for the top because it stays crispier but homemade bread crumbs or crushed Ritz crackers are fine, too.
When you add the milk to the roux stir...stir...stir.... it will look like it's clumping up but if you stir constantly it will smooth out. Stir until the mixture coats the back of a spoon.
Mac & Cheese is versatile, you can add almost anything. Bacon, smoked sausage, leftover roast beef, your favorite vegetables...
Put together this old fashioned macaroni and cheese casserole the night before if you like, just be sure to leave off the crumbs until you are ready to bake. When you get home from work the next evening, or get home from sky diving, or whatever it is you do then add the crumbs and slide it into the oven for a half hour while you relax with a glass of wine and your favorite reality show.
As much as I hate to say this - overcook the macaroni just slightly. You don't want it a la dente for this dish. When it is soft (but not so much that it's mushy) then it absorbs the cheese sauce a bit more. Everyone will want to know your secret.
Cornflakes work great in place of the breadcrumbs on the top.