Can one have too many recipes for macaroni and cheese? I think not. I have several. Months ago, I posted my stove-top version. It is quick, easy, creamy, and really delicious. This recipe is a baked version. There is a bit more labor, but loads more flavor. The extra time involved is completely worth it. This time of year, I like to serve it as a main dish with slow roasted Roma tomatoes and a green salad. Sometimes I add diced ham or chicken and veggies, like sautéed mushrooms and onions. It is also a great side dish to a baked ham or a roasted rack of pork. I must warn you though, this recipe feeds a crowd. Therefore, it is great for holiday entertaining, but it can easily be halved to enjoy on weeknights.
Even with all of the flavor here, the thing that might really get you pushing the "have another bite" button with this mac and cheese is the play on texture. Cheesy, soft noodles topped with buttered, crisp bread cubes--creamy and crunchy all in one bite--yes, please! It is some serious comfort food. Since I recently shared with you my White Bread recipe, you can now make this dish. O.K., of course you can still make this if you don't make your own bread, but I must say the buttery flavor of homemade bread cubes--yum-yum!
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
*This recipe can easily be divided in half using a 1 1/2 quart baking dish
8 tablespoons ( 4 ounces) unsalted butter, divided
6 slices white bread, crusts removed and cut into 1/4 to 1/2-inch cubes
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
4 1/2 cups (18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar cheese, divided
2 cups (8 ounces) grated Gruyère cheese, divided
1 pound elbow macaroni
Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Spray a 3-quart baking dish with non-stick spray; set aside. Place bread cubes in a medium bowl. In a small microwaveable bowl, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Pour the melted butter over the bread crumbs and toss; set aside.
In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, warm the milk. In a large saucepan, melt the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter. When the butter starts to bubble, add the flour and cook, whisking for 1 minute. While whisking, slowly pour in the warm milk. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and thickens.
Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the salt, nutmeg, peppers, 3 cups of cheese, and 1 1/2 cups of Gruyère. Stir until melted; set aside.
Bring a large saucepan filled with water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook for 2-3 minutes less than the manufacturer's directions. Drain the macaroni and rinse under cold water, drain again. Stir the macaroni into the cheese sauce. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining cheeses and scatter the bread cubes on top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
Source: Martha Stewart Living