Cool, rainy days like this one call for a big casserole dish of bubbling pasta. What makes this macaroni and cheese so special? Four things. First, it has a healthy amount of gruyere, which makes it smell like a butt but taste wonderfully nutty and rich. Second, the butter-sauteed homemade breadcrumbs on top create one of the most wonderful crusts in the world. Third, the inclusion of a little cayenne pepper adds a little background heat, without making the dish read as spicy. Finally, unlike the way Martha does it, I like to use cavatappi pasta instead of elbows. Cavatappi pasta is like an elbow, only repeated several times for more substance.
Ready to crawl inside your face and kick your tongue’s ass?
Macaroni and Cheese
Source: Martha Stewart, mainly, with some changes.
- 8 tbsps (1 stick) salted butter, plus more for dish
- 6 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4 to 1/2-inch pieces
- 5 1/2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
- 4-1/2 cups (18 oz) sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 2 cups (8 oz) Gruyere cheese, grated
- 1-lb cavatappi or elbow macaroni
- Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside.
- Place bread in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour butter into the bowl with bread, and toss. Set bread crumbs aside.
- In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, whisking, 1 minute. While whisking, slowly pour in hot milk. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick. Remove pan from heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar cheese, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyere; set cheese sauce aside.
- Fill a large saucepan with water; bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 minutes less than manufacturer’s directions, until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone. (Different brands of macaroni cook at different rates; be sure to read the instructions.) Transfer macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well.
- Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce. Pour mixture into prepared dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup Gruyere, and bread crumbs over top.
- Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool 5 minutes; serve hot.