Classic Mac & Cheese
- Ready In:
- 1hr 30mins
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 ounces small elbow macaroni
- 5 tablespoons salted butter, plus more for baking dish
- 2 cups coarse fresh breadcrumbs (preferably homemade)
- 2 ounces parmigiano-reggiano cheese, finely grated, about 1 cup (or Pecorino Romano)
- 3⁄4 cup finely diced yellow onion
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk or 2 cups reduced-fat milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 6 ounces cheddar cheese, coarsely grated, preferably orange (mild or aged cheddar, 2 cups)
- 6 ounces gruyere cheese, coarsely grated (2 cups)
- 1⁄2 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1⁄8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (or ground)
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- Butter an 8-inch square baking dish or pan or six 8-ounce ramekins; set aside.
- Fill a 4- to 5-quart pot about 3/4 full of water and add 1 tablespoon of the salt.
- Bring to a boil and add the pasta.
- Cook, stirring once or twice, until tender but firm, about 4 minutes, and drain; reserve the pot.
- While the pasta is cooking, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium skillet over medium heat.
- Turn off the heat and add the bread crumbs and Parmigiano-Reggiano; stir until mixed well; set aside.
- Using the same pot you used to cook the pasta, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter over medium heat.
- Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Slowly whisk in the flour and stir constantly until the onion is coated with the flour, 30-45 seconds.
- Continue stirring for about 2 minutes more, or until the mixture starts to darken slightly and smell a bit nutty.
- Slowly whisk in the milk, cream, and remaining 1 tsp salt and cook until the mixture is just beginning to thicken and bubble around the edges, 5-7 minutes.
- It should be similar in texture to cake batter.
- If it's soupy, continue cooking until it thickens.
- Add 1 1/2 cups of the cheddar, the Gruyere, mustard powder, cayenne, and nutmeg and stir until the cheeses have melted and the sauce is smooth but not too runny.
- Again, it should be similar in texture to cake batter; continue cooking if too soupy, until it thickens.
- Add the pasta and stir to combine.
- Pour into the prepared baking dish.
- Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheddar and top with the bread crumb mixture.
- Place the dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until bubbling and golden brown, about 30 minutes.
- Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.
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