Monday, April 20, 2009

Cheesy comfort food

When it's a Monday, (yuck) it's cold and rainy outside (double yuck) and one is generally just having a crappy day; it's time to make something that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside...Creamy Macaroni and Cheese. I'm always on the lookout for good Mac "n" Cheese recipes and when I came across this one in Martha Stewart's Original Classics Cookbook, I thought I would give it a try. Other than Martha's usual 15 pots and pans and 45 steps to achieve a recipe I would say this was very easy to put together. I made it in 2 pans as opposed to 1 9x13, and shared half with my parents. Nothing says comfort like copious amounts of bubbling cheese and noodles!

before baking:

just out of the oven:

served with chicken fingers:

Martha Stewart Creamy Mac n cheese

Serves 12

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for casserole
6 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to l/2-inch pieces
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more for water
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar cheese
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyere
1 pound elbow macaroni (or approx 1/2 of a 900 gram bag)

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place the bread in a medium bowl. Melt 2 tablespoons butter on stove or in microwave. Pour the melted butter into the bowl with the bread, and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside.

2. Warm the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Melt the remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet 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 to keep mixture smooth. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick, 8 to 12 minutes.

4. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar cheese, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyere; set the cheese sauce aside.

5. Cover a large pot of salted water, and bring to a boil. Cook the macaroni until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir the macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.

6. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup Gruyere, and the breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer the dish to a wire rack for 5 minutes; serve.

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