Martha Stewart does not lie about this mac-n-cheese. Though I had some issues with the recipe, it is by far the tastiest mac I’ve ever eaten.
Want to know the finer points of the recipe, including some history that makes you go hm? Here’s your link.
The recipe (edited in a couple of places for clarity):
Serves 12 (See Note 1)
- 6 slices good-quality white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces (See Note 2)
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for dish
- 5 1/2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar (See Note 3)
- 2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyere or 1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) grated pecorino Romano (I used Gruyere)
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place bread pieces in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour butter into the bowl with bread, and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside.
2. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute. (See Note 4)
3. Slowly pour hot milk into flour-butter mixture while whisking. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.
4. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyere or 1 cup pecorino Romano. Set cheese sauce aside.
5. Fill a large saucepan with water. Bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 fewer minutes than manufacturer’s directions, until outside of pasta is cooked and inside is underdone. (Different brands of macaroni cook at different rates; be sure to read the instructions.) Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well.
6. Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar and 1/2 cup Gruyere or 1/4 cup pecorino Romano; scatter breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes; serve.
1. This recipe seemed a bit excessive for the two of us, so we decided to cut it in half. And, despite the fact that fractions cause me to break out in a cold sweat, I successfully calculated the ingredients. The problem is that Martha means 12 side-dish servings, whereas we intended them to be main-dish servings. We realized the error of our ways while looking at the sad pile of pasta in the pot after boiling. As we were very hungry by this point, we quickly boiled up the rest of the box; the sauce looked like it would be sufficient for the entire pound o’pasta, so we did not make more. It was good, but next time we’re making the recipe as intended.
2. Even cutting the recipe in half, the amount of butter called for seemed excessive. Then I realized part of it was going on the bread crumbs. Since what I had in mind was more tuna-noodle-casserole bread crumbs, and since I’ve had greasy croutondisasters in the past, I decided to skip the butter and just rock the toasty bread. Except the bread did not toasty. (Maybe I didn’t bake it long enough; I put the bread on 5 minutes before the mac was done.) So we had ambrosial cheesy noodles topped with warm-yet-mushy bread. Next time, we’re skipping the bread.
3. Food processors are teh awesome. I shredded all of this cheese in less than 60 seconds. Not counting the 10 minutes it took me to assemble the food processor, since Cuisinart does not include that information in their instruction manual. They want you to watch a video instead. Seriously?
4. I did not preheat the milk. It works fine either way. You have to stir the sauce more if you use cold milk, but some of us do not have endless pots/storage space at our disposal.