Truth: My kids will choke each other for the bigger bowl of Annie’s Mac and Cheese.
Truth: My Macaroni and Many Cheeses recipe is one of the top Food and Wine results for Mac and Cheese.
Truth: I founded a now-defunct cheese club and have deep, intimate knowledge of these here caverns.
Truth: I’m now mostly dairy-intolerant, this means if I’m going to suffer the digestive indignities, this mac and cheese better be good.
Truth: Despite the choking, the intolerance and the other fancy mac and cheese recipe, this is our family’s favorite.
Gourmet Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
16 ounces pasta shells (I like shells, some like the elbows, you do you!)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of red pepper flakes
2 3/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
4 cups shredded cheddar cheese (I like 2 cups sharp cheddar mixed with 2 cups medium cheddar)
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup reserved pasta water
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups bread crumbs
1 cup shredded cheese (I like just the sharp cheddar for this part)
Boil water for the pasta.
Preheat the oven to 400°.
Shred the 5 (total [4+1]) cups of cheese, set the one cup of shredded cheese aside.
Make or find bread crumbs.
In a large, heavy pot over medium heat, melt the butter, add the flour.
Stir with a whisk.
The mixture will be a strange lumpy wad of a thing.
This is the base for the roux.
Keep stirring it for 3 minutes.
In a thin stream, add the two and three quarter cups whole milk and the red pepper flakes, whisking all the while until the mix makes a thinnish sauce. Cook for another 3 minutes. Stir in the 1 teaspoon mustard, 4 cups shredded cheese and 3/4 cup heavy cream. Turn off the heat.
If the water’s boiling, cook the pasta according to package directions.
(I cook it for 1 minute under the recommended range.)
Save 1 cup of pasta water before you drain the pasta.
Add the pasta to the cheese sauce — stir through until all of the cheese sauce is mixed through. Add 1/4 cup of pasta water and stir through again— the whole thing should be a little loose. Add more water if the mixture seems too firm.
In a small bowl, put bread crumbs, melted butter, and stir through the final cup of cheese.
Add the cheesy pasta to the baking dish. Sprinkle the buttery, cheesy breadcrumbs atop the macaroni and cheese.
Throw the whole dish into the oven and bake for 30 minutes, turning the dish around front to back (side to side?) at least once to ensure even baking.
I like to make double and freeze it for James to toss in the oven when I’m working late in the oven. The kids go nuts for it and he gets super-supper bragging rights.
Now go grab YOUR super supper bragging rights!