Mac and cheese keeps coming up in my life over the past month. So, I decided to make it. I also had a bunch of cheese I needed to use up, so perf, right? I never follow a recipe when I make mac and cheese. I just make the bechamel sauce, add cheese, add mac, and sometimes I bake it up. It is one of my "go to" meals that I make when I don't want to try something new. Or when I have leftover Kosher dogs. YUM. I love those Hebrew Nationals. Once you try them, you may never buy the 99 cent pack again (where did the cent symbol go?) Anyways, I love mac and cheese with hot dogs (sliced and sauteed in a little butter). Hot dogs are a summer thing for me, though. So, I didn't include them. Plus, Ina's recipe seems too mature for hot dogs.
This time, I decided to try Ina Garten's recipe, since she knows what she is doing. I have actually seen her make it on her show (along with her lobster mac and cheese...I definitely need more lobster in my life). It always looks amazing, much more amazing than any mac and cheese I ever make.
And it is. YUMMMMMMMMMM.
Let's see, I followed the recipe pretty much exactly. I did not use Gruyere, I used a regular old Swiss cheese (had a big block in the fridgey). Gruyere is a litttttttle pricey, but I might splurge sometime and use it. I also just used a medium cheddar, because that is what I had. I bet extra-sharp would be extra good, though. There is a lot of nutmeg in this recipe, if you aren't used to it, I would just grate a little in and taste...it is pretty strong (lots of reviewers didn't like the amt. of nutmeg). I maybe used 1/4 tsp, but hard to say. It was still pretty strong. I would also say that some people might not like the tomatoes on top, but I thought it was nice. I liked the contrast of the acid. They do get soft, but I really liked it. Even with the lame winter tomatoes available at the store.
And, we had it with some steamed broccoli. Cheesy dishes and steamed broccoli are best friends.
Mac and Cheese
1 pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi
1 quart milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
12 ounces Gruyere, grated (4 cups)
8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 pound fresh tomatoes (4 small)
1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.
Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large (4-quart) pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish.
Slice the tomatoes and arrange on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.
(Servings: 6, Prep time: 45 min, Cook time: 40 min., Difficulty: Easy)