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Baked Mac ‘N Cheese

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This past weekend was Shavuot (Feast of Weeks/Pentacost). It is traditional to eat dairy products on Shavuot and stay up all night. It turns out the combination of all the dairy and staying up all night results in a lot of upset tummies to say the least. Regardless, when you think of dairy, what is better or more comforting than macaroni and cheese. I’m not talking the stuff from the box. Everybody know when they really want macaroni and cheese they want it baked. The recipe blows all of your grandmothers’ recipes out of the water.
BAKED MAC ‘N CHEESE
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Serves 12

Ingredients:

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for casserole
  • 6 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to l/2-inch pieces
  • 5 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more for water
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyère cheese (I used a cheddar/Gruyere blend)
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place the bread in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour the melted butter into the bowl with the bread, and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside.

This is also a good time to grate your cheese if you haven’t done so already.

2. Warm the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Melt the remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When the butter bubbles, add the flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.

3. While whisking, slowly pour in the hot milk a little at a time to keep mixture smooth. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick, 8 to 12 minutes.

4. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar cheese, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyère; set the cheese sauce aside.

5. Cover a large pot of salted water, and bring to a boil. Cook the macaroni until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir the macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.

6. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup Gruyère, and the breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer the dish to a wire rack for 5 minutes; serve.

Hope you all are having a meaningful Memorial Day, remembering the fallen and honoring the wounded. It turns out the freedom their sacrifices afforded us makes for some great BBQs, potato salad, etc. etc. Oh! and if you can’t decide what to bring to your neighbor’s house, THIS RECIPE will do the trick. 🙂

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