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Perfect macaroni and cheese

Fall is in the air! I love this time of year. Skydiving season is winding down, which means more time with my husband. The cool crispness in the air makes me want to be inside with my family, perhaps snuggling on the couch and watching Despicable Me or Tangled for the 900th time. The only bad thing about fall is that we know what's coming. Winter. The time when we are forced to be inside and snuggling on the couch. There's a big difference between wanting to be inside and being forced to be inside. For now I'm glad that I still want to be inside. 

With the windows cracked just a bit, I love the mixed smell of a crisp October day and something delicious baking in the oven. Or bubbling on the stove. Or all of the above. I was looking for the supreme comfort meal when I came across this recipe on the NY Times website. It was everything I hoped it would be. Comfort, cheese, a teeny bit of kick, crunchiness, gooey-ness. But beware! Don't eat a large helping unless you are ready to sleep afterward!

If you are wanting comfort, followed by sleep, here is what you will need to do!

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 3-quart casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside. Place the following in a medium bowl:

6 slices good-quality white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Toss and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, heat 5 1/2 cups of milk over medium heat.

Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add 1/2 cup all-purpose flour. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Slowly pour hot milk into flour-butter mixture while whisking. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.

Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in:

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese

1 1/2 cups grated Gruyere cheese or 1 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese

Set sauce aside.

Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add 1 pound of elbow macaroni and cook for 2 to 3 fewer minutes than manufacturer's directions, until outside of pasta is cooked and inside is underdone. Transfer the macaroni to a colander and rinse under cold water. Drain well. Stir the macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.

Pour mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle over the top:

1 1/2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese

1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese or 1/4 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese

Prepared breadcrumbs

Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and serve! And then snooze!

Click here for a printable recipe!

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Reader Comments (6)

Perfect Mac and Cheese is a strong comment to make... I think you have the potential with this recipe though! I may have to give this a shot sometime and let you know how I'd rate it!

10.17.2011 | Unregistered CommenterJeff

Oh man. Hot stuff. That mac 'n cheese looks AMAZING! And you're totally making me miss fall...with the smells and the crispy weather :) Better enjoy it before that impenetrable pile of snow rears its ugly head again.

By the way, when I was at Icoa ordering TWO salads I said to CK...'Megan would love this.'

10.20.2011 | Unregistered CommenterParsley Sage

That looks like some incredible mac & cheese! I'm a sucker for that gooey goodness :) I'll have to try it and see if it's as perfect as you say! (it sure looks it)

10.22.2011 | Unregistered CommenterColleen

Try adding chopped cooked bacon and a finely chopped onion then you have a perfect macaroni cheese British style.

11.26.2011 | Unregistered Commentermeg freeth

Yummy!!! Loved this recipe so much that I shared on my little interwebs spot. Of course I linked back to you to give proper thank you so much for posting!

01.3.2012 | Unregistered CommenterEncore

This truly is the perfect macaroni and cheese. I don't know how else it could have been better. (I actually threw in a little extra smoked gouda and Swiss raclette cheese.) Was such a hit. Will definitely be adding this to my repertoire.

03.31.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKendra

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