March 9, 2015

The Best Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

I am always intrigued by recipes that claim to be "the best." I wonder how many different recipes did that person go through in order to claim that this one was the best? I don't take claims of being the best of something lightly, but I'm not kidding when I say that this just may be the best macaroni and cheese recipe that I've come across. In all fairness, I've probably only made about 4 different recipes before this one.

This particular recipe came from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook The Original Classics. I know that in today's day and age there are so many sites to go to when looking for a new recipe, but I just love having different cookbooks on hand. Many of my cookbooks I have attached some sort of memory or sentiment to it. For example, The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook The Original Classics was given to me by my Grammie when I really started to get into baking. I've made quite a bit of recipes from this cookbook. Another special cookbook I have is one that my awesome infusion nurse coworkers made me of their recipes for special dishes they brought and took pictures of to my bridal shower. They had a foodie themed bridal shower for me, how perfect is that? :)

I wouldn't be me if I didn't tweak this recipe in some way or another... I didn't make a breadcrumb topping and I changed the amount and type of cheeses I used. I ended up using about 5 cups of cheese which included a pre-blended mix of American, sharp Cheddar, and Swiss.

I think it is really key to make sure you undercook the pasta like directed in this recipe. When you put it in the oven the pasta will continue to cook through and I don't particularly care for mushy mac & cheese. Also, the white sauce cuts down a lot of flavor so it is important to use at least one cheese with a bit of a bite to it like Pecorino Romano like the recipe calls for or Swiss like I used.

Link to the original recipe.

Macaroni and Cheese 101
adapted from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook The Original Classics
Serves 12

8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp kosher salt, plus more for boiling the pasta
1/4 tsp group nutmeg
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
5 cups shredded/grated american, sharp cheddar, and swiss cheese blend
1 lb elbow macaroni

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 3 quart casserole dish; set aside.

2. Warm the milk in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Melt the butter in a large, wide, pot (like a stock pot) 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 (I did 1 cup at a time) to keep the mixture smooth. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick, 8-12 minutes.

4. Remove from the heat and stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and 4 cups of cheese. Set the cheese sauce aside.

5. In another large pot bring salted water to a boil. Cook the macaroni until the outside of the pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone, approximately 3-4 minutes. Drain the macaroni in a colander and rinse under cold water, make sure to drain the macaroni well. Pour the macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce and stir.

6. Pour the mixture into the buttered casserole dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, approximately 30 minutes. Allow to set for a few minutes before serving.

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