Baked Mac and Cheese
From Julie Van Rosendaal
Mac & cheese that doesn’t come out of a box is something everyone should be able to make. It doesn’t require much more time or effort than KD, and is the ultimate in comfort food. Experiment by adding different cheeses – intensely flavoured ones such as gruyère or blue cheese are best. It’s a great way to get rid of leftover cheese bits you might have lurking in the fridge.
- 1/2 lb. (250 g) dry macaroni, whole wheat rotini, small shells or other pasta
- 1/4 c. butter
- 1/4 c. flour
- 3 c. milk
- 3 c. grated old cheddar, aged gouda, or any combo of cheeses you have in the fridge
- Bread Crumb Topping (optional):
- 1-2 slices sandwich bread, torn into pieces
- 3 T. melted butter or olive oil
- 1/4 c. grated parmesan
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until it’s tender but still al dente. Drain well in a colander and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In the empty pot (no need to wash it out), melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and stir well with a whisk, cooking for a minute or so until the mixture starts to turn golden. Stir in the milk and bring the sauce to a boil, whisking constantly. (The sauce must reach a full boil in order for the flour to reach its full thickening potential.) Reduce the heat and simmer for a few minutes, until the mixture is nice and thick.
Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the cheese until it melts. Add salt to taste, then stir in the drained pasta. If you want a bread crumb topping, pulse the bread, butter and parmesan in a food processor until the bread turns to crumbs and the mixture is well blended. Pour the macaroni and cheese into an appropriately sized baking dish and top with the bread crumbs or additional cheese. (The mac & cheese can be made up to 24 hours ahead and refrigerated in the baking dish; sprinkle with the crumb mixture or cheese right before you bake it.) Bake for 15-20 minutes, until bubbly around the edges and the topping is golden. Serves 4 to 6.