There are loads of ways to make macaroni and cheese and I make no judgments if you find yourself reaching for a box with a silver packet of dried cheese, to satisfy your mac ‘n cheese needs. I will say, again without judgment, that this recipe is easy and far more satisfying.
Start by sautéing some onions in a bit of butter, then add some spicy cayenne—these two secret weapons add another layer of flavor and helps keep this dish from being a heavy, gloppy mound of melted cheese (not that there is anything wrong with a pile of melted cheese). Whisk in flour, then milk to form your white sauce. Melt in a mix of sharp cheddar—New England if you please—a bit of Jack cheese and another secret ingredient, ricotta cheese. Mix in a pound of pasta (cooked al dente), then bake until thickened and bubbly.
If I am really seeking comfort from the kitchen, I have been known to get this little party started with chopped bacon—you decide.
Yield: 6 servings
1 pound elbow macaroni
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely diced
6 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon cayenne powder
3 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
8 ounces grated fontina or Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups unseasoned bread crumbs (I like panko style)
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta about 2 minutes less than package instructions, so that it still has a slight crunch to it. Drain and set aside.
Butter a 13 by 9 -inch casserole pan. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and gently cook onion until softened; about 5 minutes. Lower heat to medium low. Whisk in flour and cayenne to form a thick paste; cook, while constantly whisking about 2 minutes. Whisk in milk until smooth; cook, while occasionally whisking until thickened and bubbly. Whisk in heavy cream. Whisk in cheeses. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the noodles and stir well to coat.
Pour into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake 20 minutes or until top is lightly browned. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.
(Courtesy: Yankee Magazine)
Annie B. Copps is a senior editor at Yankee Magazine. Annie oversees the magazine's food coverage, both as an editor and as a contributor of feature stories and columns.
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