My Favorite Mac and Cheese
- Sauce: Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste cooks and bubbles a bit, but don't let it brown — about 2 minutes. Add the hot milk, continuing to stir as the sauce thickens. Bring it to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste, lower the heat, and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes more. Stir in 1 cup grated Cheddar cheese during the last 2 minutes of cooking, along with a pinch of cayenne pepper. Remove from the heat. To cool this sauce for later use, cover it with wax paper or pour a film of milk over it to prevent a skin from forming.
- Macaroni: Preheat the oven to 375°F Butter a 1 1/2-quart casserole. Put the cooked macaroni into the casserole, pour the cheese sauce over it, and mix gently with a fork. Sprinkle the grated cheese evenly over the top and spread the crumbs over the cheese. Bake, uncovered, until the top is golden and the sauce is bubbling, about 30 minutes.