Friday, May 27, 2011

best freakin mac-n-cheese EVER!

Gourmet, Aug 2007
Macaroni and Cheese
(Best, freakin ever!)

yield: Makes 20 servings
active time: 35 min
total time: 1 1/4 hr

The toasted crumbs on top have a cheesy crispness, and the pasta beneath is creamy and rich. Kids will appreciate the individual servings, but the... more ›

For topping
    •  1/2 stick unsalted butter
    •  2 cups panko (coarse Japanese bread crumbs) or 3 
       cups coarse fresh bread crumbs (from 6 slices firm 
       white sandwich bread)
    •  1/4 pound coarsely grated extra-sharp Cheddar (1.5 
    •  1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

For macaroni and sauce

    •  1 stick unsalted butter
    •  6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    •  5 cups whole milk
    •  1 pound coarsely grated extra-sharp Cheddar (6 cups)
    •  1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
    •  1 pound elbow macaroni

Make topping:

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle.
Melt butter, then stir together with panko and topping cheeses in a bowl until combined well.

Make sauce:

Melt butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat and stir in flour. Cook roux, stirring, 3 minutes, then whisk in milk. Bring sauce to a boil, whisking constantly, then simmer, whisking occasionally, 3 minutes. Stir in cheeses, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper until smooth. Remove from heat and cover surface of sauce with wax paper.

Make Macaroni:

Cook macaroni in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (2 tablespoons salt for 4 quarts water) until al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking water and drain macaroni in a colander. Stir together macaroni, reserved cooking water, and sauce in a large bowl. Transfer to 2 buttered 2-quart shallow baking dishes.

Sprinkle topping evenly over macaroni and bake until golden and bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes.

Cooks' notes:
Topping can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. 
Half of dish can be baked in 10 (6- to 8-ounce) ramekins for children (with remaining half baked in a 2-quart baking dish for adults).

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