Classic Macaroni And Cheese

Serves 8
Published in: America's Test Kitchen

Bread Crumb Topping
6 slice white sandwich bread (good-quality -- about 6 ounces), torn
into rough pieces
3 tablespoon unsalted butter (cold) -- cut into 6 pieces
Pasta and Cheese
1 Lbs elbow macaroni
1 tablespoon table salt
5 tablespoon unsalted butter
6 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon powdered mustard
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
5 cup milk (see note)
8 ounceMonterey Jack cheese -- shredded (2 cups)
8 ounce sharp cheddar cheese -- shredded (2 cups)
1 teaspoon table salt

For the bread crumbs: Pulse bread and butter in food processor
until crumbs are no larger than 1/8 inch, ten to fifteen 1-second
pulses. Set aside.

For the pasta and cheese: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position
and heat broiler. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in Dutch oven over high
heat. Add macaroni and 1 tablespoon salt; cook until pasta is tender.
Drain pasta and set aside in colander.

In now-empty Dutch oven, heat butter over medium-high heat until
foaming. Add flour, mustard, and cayenne (if using) and whisk well to
combine. Continue whisking until mixture becomes fragrant and deepens
in color, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk; bring mixture to
boil, whisking constantly (mixture must reach full boil to fully
thicken). Reduce heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally,
until thickened to consistency of heavy cream, about 5 minutes. Off
heat, whisk in cheeses and 1 teaspoon salt until cheeses are fully
melted. Add pasta and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly,
until mixture is steaming and heated through, about 6 minutes.

Transfer mixture to broiler-safe 9-by 13-inch baking dish and
sprinkle evenly with bread crumbs. Broil until crumbs are deep golden
brown, 3 to 5 minutes, rotating pan if necessary for even browning.
Cool about 5 minutes, then serve.

Recipe Notes

It's crucial to cook the pasta until tender--just past the "al dente"
stage. In fact, overcooking is better than undercooking the pasta.
Whole, low-fat, and skim milk all work well in this recipe. The recipe
can be halved and baked in an 8-inch-square, broilersafe baking dish.
If desired, offer celery salt or hot sauce (such as Tabasco) for
sprinkling at the table.

6 to 8 or 10 as a side dish
-- is moderated by Patricia D. Hill at [email protected].
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