Prep 35 mins
Cook 30 mins
This super rich macaroni and cheese isn’t designed for delicate eaters, nor for dieters. It’s made the old fashioned way, with a white sauce enriched with heavy cream and sharp Cheddar cheese. The sauce coats the tender macaroni and bakes under a topping of bread crumbs and butter. You won’t need more than a green salad served before or a fruit salad served afterward, to make the meal complete.
- 1⁄2 lb sharp cheddar cheese
- 3⁄4 lb elbow macaroni (or twists) or 3⁄4 lb penne (or twists)
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick, divided)
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- cayenne pepper
- 1⁄3 cup breadcrumbs
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. While the water is heating, grate the cheese with a rotary grater and set it aside.
- Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until it is barely tender, about 7 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water, and drain again.
- Melt 4 Tablespoons of the butter in a non-reactive medium size saucepan over medium heat. When it is bubbly, whisk in the flour and cook for a few seconds, just until it is combined. Whisk thoroughly so you gather all the flour into the butter. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly so the flour paste absorbs the milk without creating lumps. When about half the milk has been added, you can add the rest at a faster rate, but continue to whisk constantly. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly but not frantically. When it reaches the boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, still whisking occasionally, until the sauce is cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the grated cheese; whisk vigorously until the cheese has melted. Then whisk in the heavy cream, and season to taste with salt and cayenne.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the sauce with the drained macaroni. Transfer the mixture to a 13x9 inch baking dish, spreading it out evenly. Sprinkle the bread crumbs on top, and dot with the remaining 4 Tablespoons butter. Bake until it is hot and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Let it stand for 5 minutes before serving.
- Ham, Macaroni, and Cheese: Fold in 1/4 pound diced smoked ham, or 2 ounces finely chopped prosciutto, when you combine the macaroni with the cheese sauce in step 5.
- Sun-Dried Tomato Macaroni and Cheese: Fold in 1/4 cup finely chopped sun dried tomatoes when you combine the macaroni with the cheese sauce in step 5.
- Vegetable Macaroni and Cheese: Fold in 1 cup diced cooked vegetables, such as carrots, when you combine the macaroni with the cheese sauce in step 5.
- Macaroni and Multi-cheeses: Instead of the plain Cheddar, use a combination of cheeses; Cheddar and Parmesan; Asiago, Cheddar, and smoked mozzarella; Cheddar, Fontina, chevre, and Parmesan; or another outrageously rich mixture.
- Note: This tends to dry out when reheated the following day, so it is best to reheat it, covered, in a microwave. Makes 6 to 8 servings.
- Monday to Friday Pasta.