I love macaroni and cheese, a trait I share with most five year-olds. Even as I’ve aged, and my palate has broadened, it is the reflexive answer I always give when someone asks me to name my favorite food. Love. It.
The adult me has come to grips with the fact that mac is a special occasion treat, not a daily food choice. However, when I do indulge, I don’t waste time on a boxed product. It’s going to be the full on, made from scratch, worth waiting for, real deal macaroni and cheese. I pulled this together based on a great dish I had in a local restaurant crossed with a favorite traditional recipe.
It’s flexible, working well with a variety of cheeses – from sharp cheddar to Monterrey Jack . This recipe uses blue cheeses for a grown up twist. I’ve also thrown in any number of “bonus items” when mixing the macaroni with the cheese sauce – steamed broccoli, green chilies, bacon, sauteed mushrooms – to give the dish different flavors.
I hope this dish appeals to your inner child and your adult palate.
Topping: Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in the microwave. Add bread crumbs to the melted butter and toss with a fork until coated. Add Parmesan and 4 tablespoons of mozzarella cheese. Set aside.
To 4 quarts of salted boiling water, add macaroni and cook until pasta is tender, just past al-dente stage.
Drain the pasta in a colander and set aside. In the same pot, heat the remaining butter over medium-high heat until foaming. Add flour, mustard, and cayenne, whisking until the mixture turns light golden.
Slowly add milk while continuing to whisk. Bring to a full boil and reduce heat to simmer for about 5 minutes. Whisk in the Worcestershire sauce. Remove from heat and add cheese. Stir until melted. At this point, taste the sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Turn on the oven broiler. Add drained pasta to the sauce and return to medium heat, stir constantly until piping hot (about 5 minutes).
Transfer to an appropriately sized casserole dish and sprinkle with topping. Broil until crumbs are golden brown and the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes.
Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
This recipe can easily be halved using these amounts:
Half Recipe 3½ tablespoons butter (divided use) ½ cup fresh bread crumbs 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese 2 tablespoons shredded mozzarella cheese 8 oz elbow macaroni or shells 3 tablespoons flour 1 teaspoons dry mustard 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper 2 ½ cups milk ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 8 ounces blue cheese crumbles 8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese Salt and pepper to taste