unsalted butter, divided, plus more
butter, for dish
baguette, torn into small pieces
fresh thyme, chopped
coarse salt, divided
sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
tomatoes, cut into 1 inch chunks
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Cook pasta until just beginning to soften, 2 to 3 minutes (it will not be fully cooked).
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Drain and rinse macaroni.
- Butter a 9 X 13 inch pan or 3 quart casserole; set aside.
- Melt 2 tablespoons butter, and pour over bread in a medium bowl; add 1 teaspoon thyme, 1/2 salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, and toss.
- Heat milk in a sauce pan over medium heat until warm.
- Heat remaining 5 tablespoons of butter in a high sided skillet or a pot over medium heat until foaming.
- Add flour, cook, whisking 1 minute.
- Whisk in warm milk a little at a time.
- Cook, whisking constantly, until bubbling and thickened, 8-10 minutes.
- Remove milk mixture from heat.
- Add 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 2 teaspoons thyme, nutmeg, and cheese to pan; stir until cheese is melted.
- Stir pasta and tomatoes into cheese sauce.
- Pour into buttered dish; sprinkle with bread topping.
- Bake until bubbly and golden, about 30 minutes.
- Let cool slightly before serving.