This isn’t my “usual” recipe. I’ll keep a few “secret” ingredients up my sleeve, but this is one damn good recipe courtesy of my time spent working at Williams-Sonoma.
Creamy Mac and Cheese
Yield: 6 servings
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 clove, minced garlic
1 1/2 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs
kosher slat and fresh ground pepper
1 pound elbow macaroni
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups, warmed, whole milk
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded fontina cheese
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
In a large frying pan, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until tender but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add the bread crumbs and stir until coated with butter. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a shallow 3-quart baking dish.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the macaroni and stir occasionally until the water returns to a boil. Cook accordingly to the package directions until not quite al dente. (The macaroni will cook again in the oven, so do not overcook it now.) Drain well and set aside.
Add the remaining 4 tablespoons butter to the pot used for the pasta and melt over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let bubble for 1 minute without browning. Gradually whisk in the milk, raise the heat to medium, and bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheeses along with the mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the pasta. Spread in the prepared baking dish and sprinkle evenly with the buttered crumbs.
Bake until the crumbs are browned and the sauce is bubbling, about 20 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes, the serve hot.
Any tubular pasta will do, you needn’t restrict yourself to elbow macaroni. To give it a little personality, add chopped crisp bacon, cubes of smoked ham or cooked chicken, cooked peas, chopped blanched broccoli, sautéed wild mushrooms, or crumbled blue cheese.