As temperatures drop throughout most of the country (although not in southern California – as usual!), I thought it was high time to feature a recipe* for one of my all-time favorite comfort foods: macaroni and cheese. While there are roughly a zillion recipes for this classic pasta dish on the Internet, the one below takes on a decidedly French flair with the addition of béchamel and Comté cheese. The result? A rich, creamy, and delicious macaroni that will knock your freakin’ socks off. Seriously, make this immediately – I promise you won’t regret it! Enjoy!
MACARONI AND CHEESE
Yield: 6 servings
For the béchamel:
- 4 cups (1 quart) whole milk
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tbsp kosher salt
- Kosher salt
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 10 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese (about 4 cups shredded)
- 2 ounces Comté cheese (about 3/4 cup shredded)
- 1/2 tsp English mustard
- 1/2 cup panko crumb
For the béchamel:
- Heat whole milk in a saucepan over medium heat just until it comes to a simmer. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk constantly until the mixture turns light brown in color (approximately 3 minutes). Remove from heat.
- Whisking constantly, slowly add the hot milk to the butter-flour mixture until evenly combined and smooth.
- Return the saucepan to medium-high heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon (approximately 2 to 3 minutes). Stir in one tablespoon of salt, taste, and add remaining salt if desired. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just al dente (approximately 9 minutes). Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius).
- Place the reserved saucepan of béchamel over medium heat. Stir in cheeses and mustard until melted and smooth. Add the pasta and stir to combine. Transfer to a 5-quart baking dish, sprinkle with panko, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
*Re-posted from my old blog, Cucina Fresca