Mac and Cheese. Ahhhh, (sigh.) A good sigh of course. I mean, come on. Is there anyone that doesn’t love it? If you know someone that doesn’t…you should de-friend them immediately. I’m serious. You don’t need that weird person in your life. Or that negativity. Ok I’m kidding. (No I’m not.) I kinda feel the same way about people that put cottage cheese in their lasagna. It’s wrong. Just don’t do it.
This is by far the most amazing, insanely delicious, better than ANY RESTAURANT you will ever go to Mac & Cheese. I promise. You’ll never look back. It’s the holy grail of Mac & Cheese’s. There will never be another like this. It’s fancy, it’s creamy, it’s flavorful, it’s…it’s…(sigh again) so many things. It’s everything.
In all honesty, I’ve eaten at some pretty incredible restaurants and every time I order Mac & Cheese as a side dish my husband and I always say the same thing to each other…”mine tastes better.” EVERY. TIME. I keep waiting. Waiting for that life changing Mac & Cheese from a restaurant. It hasn’t happened yet. Ever since I started making this years ago, my hopes have gone down. Like waayyy down. I’m yelling timber for real. But that’s ok! Cuz I make it myself yo’. And it is damn good! If you want to wow your guests, make this! If you want to impress your new flame, make this! He or she will take you home to meet mother immediately.
Now I could never come up with something like this by myself. I wish I was that good. Ina Garten (last sigh) is the queen of yumminess. That woman knows her stuff when it comes to food. I adapted this recipe from her. I have tweaked it a bit to make it BETTER. (She puts tomatoes on hers….ewwwww.) That’s wrong too. Don’t do that either. Ina failed me here. I love tomatoes. But NOT on my Mac & Cheese. I like to keep it classic with a fancy twist!
EVERY time I make this it comes out perfect. It’s great too because you can make it ahead of time. This is NOT a “whip it up” when you come home from work type of dish. It’s time consuming. But OMG is it worth it. I’ve never met someone who didn’t go totally crazy when they tried this.
WARNING: This is not a cheap dish. The cheese alone will cost you around $15-20 depending on if you have to buy a chunk already wrapped or cheaper if you can get cut to exact weight behind deli counter. However it makes enough to feed a family and stays good for days in the fridge. If you want to splurge one day….it’s SO WORTH IT.
Alright here it goes…let’s start with the breadcrumb topping.
Time Saving Tip: Grate the cheese in advance and store in a ziplock bag!! Also, the breadcrumbs! Just store in an airtight container.
1 pound cavatappi
1 quart whole milk milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
12 ounces Gruyere, grated (4 cups)
8 ounces extra-sharp White Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Cook to al dente. Drain well.
Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large (4-quart) pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. Raise heat to medium low and while whisking, add the hot milk and cook 7-10 until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish.
Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.
(This recipe has been adapted from Ina Garten)