Saturday, March 26, 2011

Macaroni & Cheese 101

Here it is folks, my favorite recipe of all time. The most delicious mac & cheese you will ever taste. The recipe comes from a Martha Stewart Living cookbook my grandmother gave my mother for Christmas nine years ago. Since then, this recipe has become a family favorite.

My mom likes to jot down a note next to recipes when she makes them– usually the date and a few words about the occasion or how the recipe turned out– and she's pretty much run out of room next to this one. There are five different notes about the two of us making the recipe together. Not surprisingly, this is one of the first dishes I remember making growing up. It's a really fun recipe to make with another person, and I highly recommend doing it that way.

Now, I don't feel strongly about Martha Stewart one way or the other, but the woman knows her mac & cheese. This recipe uses two different types of cheese– sharp white cheddar (my favorite) and Gruyère– and is topped with chunks of bread tossed in butter. The key is to use a great loaf of white bread and lots of it (we use a type of bread called White Mountain Bread from Publix).

Macaroni & Cheese 101 is best served immediately after it's made. It can be stored in the fridge and reheated, but I think it loses a little bit of its magic.

I'm so glad to finally get this recipe on here. I hope y'all enjoy it as much as I do!

Bon appetit!

Macaroni & Cheese 101
8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter 
8 slices good quality white bread, torn into 1/4-1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
5 1/2 cups whole milk
2 tsp coarse salt
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 1/2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese
2 cups grated Gruyère cheese
1 lb. elbow macaroni

Black pepper, cayenne pepper and freshly ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375° F. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish and set aside.

Place bread in a medium bowl. Melt 2 tbsp butter in a saucepan set over medium heat or in the microwave (be careful not to brown or burn butter). Pour melted butter into the bowl with the bread and toss. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Salt the water and add the macaroni. Cook until the outside of the pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a colander, rinse under cold water and drain well. Set aside.

Warm the milk in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Melt the remaining 6 tbsp butter in a large high-sided skillet set over medium heat. When the butter bubbles, add the flour. Cook for 1 minute, whisking briskly.

Continue whisking briskly as you slowly pour in the hot milk a little at a time to keep the mixture smooth (this usually takes 2 sets of hands, so you might want to ask for some help). Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and thickens, 8 to 12 minutes.

Whisk quickly while pouring in the milk to prevent clumps from forming

Remove pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups of cheddar and 1 1/2 cups Gruyère. Add macaroni and mix well.

Pour mixture into prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar and 1/2 cup Gruyère and bread crumbs over the top. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack for 5 minutes, serve while still hot.

A crispy breadcrumb & cheese topping makes this macaroni unbelievably tasty

Source: Martha Stewart Living Annual Recipes 2002


  1. I'm still bitter your made this in Atlanta and not at our place. It is SO yummy!

  2. this remains one of my favorite things you have ever made! nom nom nom