Grant Achatz's Mac and Cheese

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READY IN: 2hrs 40mins
SERVES: 8
YIELD: 1 dish
UNITS: US

INGREDIENTS

Nutrition
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DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F
  • Butter a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking dish.
  • In a large saucepan, melt the butter.
  • Add the bacon and cook over moderate heat until crisp, about 7 minutes.
  • With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper toweled plate.
  • Add the onion and bay leaves to the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the paprika, oregano, garlic and cayenne and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  • Stir in the flour until blended.
  • Gradually whisk in the milk until the sauce is smooth.
  • Bring to a boil over high heat, whisking constantly, and cook until thickened.
  • Reduce the heat to low and simmer the sauce gently for 30 minutes, whisking frequently.
  • Discard the bay leaves.
  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Add the macaroni or penne and boil until pliable but undercooked, about 4 minutes.
  • Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
  • Stir 4 cups of the cheddar into the hot sauce, add the bacon and season with salt, black pepper(as needed) and a pinch of crushed red pepper(as needed).
  • Add the sauce to the pasta and mix well.
  • Spread the mac and cheese in the prepared baking dish and scatter the remaining 1 cup of cheddar on top.
  • Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden brown and bubbling.
  • Let stand for 10 minutes before serving with a baby spinach salad w/a vinaigrette dressing, crusty rustic bread and a Brunello di Montalcino from southern Tuscany.
  • **The assembled mac and cheese can be refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before baking.
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