Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Martha Stewart's Mac-and-Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese is one of those classic American dishes that everyone probably has had at least once. In my case, I remember eating all different kinds ranging from home-made, boxed, to the restaurant mac-and-cheese at places like The Publick House in Brookline and the 50's Diner in Dedham. I'd seen plenty of recipes all over the web but I never tried making it myself

But that all changed when I saw Smitten Kitchen's version, also found in Martha Stewart Living Cookbook:The Original Classics. And after looking at all the various pictures and reading about it, I decided I just had to try it this once and hope for the best. And wow, it turned out well. The kitchen started smelling real good after baking for about 10 minutes and it was hard waiting the next 20 minutes for the dish to finish!

One word of warning. This recipe makes A LOT of mac-and-cheese. I'm not kidding about this, the roommate can attest. I spent the next week eating mac-and-cheese for lunch and dinner. Halving the recipe works, I was just too dumb to do it :P

Martha Stewart's Mac-and-Cheese

Serves 12

8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus some more for the baking dish
6 slices white bread, crusts removed, cubed
5 1/2 cups milk (I used skim)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp kosher salt, plus some more for boiling the pasta
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
4 1/2 cup (18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar cheese
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyere (Can substitute 5 ounces grated Romano)
1 lb elbow macaroni

1. Preheat oven to 375 Farenheit. Butter a 3 quart casserole/baking dish and set aside. Melt 2 tbsp butter in a small saucepan. Pour the melted butter into a mixing bowl with the bread and toss. Set aside.
2. Warm the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Separately melt the remaining 6 tbsp butter in a high-sided skillet or saute pan over medium heat. When the butter bubbles, add the flour. Stir and cook for about a minute.
3. Slowly pour the hot milk into the skillet while whisking. Try to keep the mixture smooth. Continue cooking and whisking until the mixture bubbles and thickens, about 8-12 minutes.
4. Remove the skillet from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups (not all) cheddar cheese, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyere. Set aside.
5. Boil the macaroni until the outside of the pasta is barely cooked. About 2 to 3 minutes. When finished, rinse and drain the macaroni, then add it to the cheese sauce.
6. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese and the breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes.

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