Sunday, December 2, 2012

Classic Macaroni and Cheese, Updated

This is the last mac-n-cheese recipe you will ever need.  It's simple and quick.  Just cook the pasta, turn a roux into a bechemel into a mornay sauce, top with yummies and fire it up.  Typical recipes instruct you to bake the dish, which can often result in a dry mac.  To avoid that, this guy is all about the stovetop and the broiler.  Of course, obtain the highest quality cheddar cheese you desire- I used extra-sharp Tillamook, hailing from Oregon, a very tasty upgrade from my usual cheddar from the great state of Wisconsin.  The Monterey Jack adds a nice tang to the dish.  The cayenne pepper is optional, if you don't like it spicy then feel free to omit it.  The Dorito and Cheez-it topping is also optional, although highly recommended, if not slightly ghetto.  But super tasty.  Looking for a crazier version of mac-n-cheese?

Classic Macaroni and Cheese, Updated
8 servings as side

6 slices white bread, torn into quarters
8 TB unsalted butter, 3 TB cut into 6 pieces and chilled
handful nacho cheese Doritos, crushed
handful Cheez-its, crushed
1 lb cavatappi or elbow macaroni
6 TB AP flour
1.5 TB dry mustard
1/4 ts cayenne pepper
5 C whole or 2% milk
12 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
8 oz Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

Pulse bread and 3 TB chilled butter in food processor until coarse crumbs, about 12 pulses.  Set aside.

Cook the pasta in a large pot with 4 quarts of water and 1 TB kosher salt, until tender.  Drain and set aside.

Using the same pot, melt 5 TB butter over medium heat.  Add the flour, mustard and cayenne, whisk constantly for 2 minutes to develop a lightly browned roux.  Whisk in the milk gradually, then turn up the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat back to medium and whisk occasionally until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes.  Off the heat, add the cheese a handful at a time and stir to melt.  Add the cooked pasta and stir well, turn down the heat to medium-low and cook for about 4 minutes, stirring, until everything is heated through and steaming.

Fire up the broiler to high, set rack in the middle of your oven.  Transfer the pasta mixture to a 13X9 broiler-proof dish.  Sprinkle the bread crumb/butter mixture on top, and then the Dorito/Cheez-it mixture.  Broil for a few minutes until nicely browned, of course watching the whole time to avoid burning, and rotating the dish if necessary.  Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.  

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