Macaroni & cheese probably tops the list of American comfort foods, and everyone has their own rendition of this simple dish. How is it possible that the basic combination of macaroni smothered in a simple white sauce enhanced with cheese can get so much attention? I guess anything smothered in cheese sauce should get a lot of attention.
I got a hankering for mac & cheese but before I headed to the kitchen I did a little research. A couple of my fellow food bloggers tossed me some quick tips and tricks. Tony T suggested using fresh breadcrumbs for my topping that I lightly toasted with some butter which was light, crispy, and delish.
The Gourmand Mom suggested cooling down the macaroni before mixing it into the sauce so the hot macaroni wouldn’t absorb all the sauce which resulted in a saucier mac & cheese. Thank goodness for fellow food bloggers who are always teaching me new stuff.
I suppose that the original version of mac & cheese was made with American cheese but I suggest that you use a combination of cheeses to wake up the cheesiness. Sharp or extra sharp cheddar are a must because it screams cheese when added to this dish. I like to mix the cheddar together with gruyere or swiss to give it a creamier texture as well as a bit of cheesy pull when you scoop it up.
MAC & CHEESE
1 pound macaroni
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 cups gruyere or swiss cheese, grated
½ cup butter (1 stick)
½ cup flour
4 cups milk
¼ tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (about 5 slices, crust removed)
2 Tbsp. butter
pinch kosher salt
pinch black pepper
Place 2 Tbsp. butter in a sauté pan and add the breadcrumbs, pinch of salt and pepper. Toast until light golden; set aside.
Boil macaroni according to package instructions; drain and rinse with cold water.
In a sauce pot melt butter over med heat; add flour and mix to blend. Cook for couple of minutes to remove the raw flour flavor. Whisk in the milk, salt and pepper and bring to a boil while continuing to stir; let cook until sauce thickens.
Remove sauce from heat and add 4 cups of cheese. Stir to blend. Add the cooled macaroni; stir to mix. Place in a 9 X 13 casserole; top with lightly toasted bread crumbs.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes or until the bread crumbs are golden brown.