Oh. My. Goodness. This has to be the best creamy, rich, grown-up mac and cheese EVER. It is utterly divine and comforting and so easy to make. And it reheats to perfect creamy, gooey-ness without separating or becoming oily. Seriously, this is the king of all macaroni and cheese.
You may have come across Martha Stewart's mac and cheese recipe before, as it has been popularized by Serious Eats and Smitten Kitchen. It really is that amazing.
To make it "grown up," I used a mixture of nutty, aged gruyere and sharp English cheddar with coarse sourdough breadcrumbs. The sharp cheddar was so wonderful, with tiny little crystals that pop in your mouth.
I made this mac and cheese for a friend's wedding in Tahoe for 60+ people. After figuring out how to boil pasta in a massive pot at a high elevation and stirring massive pots of milk and cheese sauce, making a single batch of mac and cheese was a simple feat.
If prepared according to the recipe, the mac and cheese will serve 12 people, but you can easily halve the recipe. 12 people isn't an exaggeration. You may think that you can eat it all but you WILL have leftovers, unless you have 12 hungry mouths to feed.
But having leftovers of this mac and cheese is a good thing. I am convinced that it tastes better the next day. Be sure to serve it hot so it will be nice and gooey.
I made a tray for Thanksgiving and we ate leftovers for dinner on Friday, breakfast the next morning (don't judge) and for dinner again on Saturday.
Sadly there are no more leftovers. I cannot wait for an excuse to make it again.
Martha's mac and cheese (The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook: The Original Classics)
*6 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to l/2-inch pieces I used 1/3 of a fresh sourdough boule, did not remove the crust and processed into coarse breadcrumbs
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 Gruyère or 1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 pound elbow macaroni
Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place the bread in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour the melted butter into the bowl with the bread, and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside.
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.
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.
Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar cheese, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyère (or 1 cup Pecorino Romano); set the cheese sauce aside.
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.
Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup Gruyère (or 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano), and the breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer the dish to a wire rack for 5 minutes; serve.