Macaroni and Cheese

Mac n Cheese

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

To assemble:

  • 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:

  1. Heat whole milk in a saucepan over medium heat just until it comes to a simmer. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. Whisking constantly, slowly add the hot milk to the butter-flour mixture until evenly combined and smooth.
  4. 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.

To assemble:

  1. 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.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius).
  3. 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

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