Martha Stewart Mac and Cheese

It is a sad thing to admit, but my husband is a fan of boxed Mac and Cheese.  This affection comes from his college days when he had little money to live off of.  He even has a technique for making it “extra tasty”.  Oh my.

I also admit to making this for him, alongside frozen chicken nuggets and canned green beans, when we were newly married.  Amazingly, we are still married to this day.  And, that boxed crap no longer has a place in our home.  Though I’ve never asked him to confirm this, I do believe that making this Mac and Cheese communicates much more love than tearing open a box.  And, I think he’s also reformed.

Even though this Mac and Cheese is not your traditional orange variety, it is super cheesy, super smooth and all kinds of delicious.  The recipe recommends a combination of extra sharp white cheddar and Gruyere.  I don’t recommend straying from this one iota.  The Gruyere will set you back a few pennies, but it makes all the different in taste.  It’s such a good melty, saucy cheese that can’t be replicated using only cheddar.  Using Gruyere turns this into a special occasion dish.  Anyone who eats it will agree that a meal including this very serious Mac and Cheese is a special one.

Mac and Cheese is often thought of as a kid’s staple.  But I promise you, this version from Martha Stewart is all grown up.

The original recipe calls for a small amount of nutmeg.  I realize that nutmeg is a flavor enhancer, but I found the taste to be a little distracting from the awesome cheese.  Next time I make this, I’ll leave it out.  For you, it’s optional.

Martha Stewart’s Perfect Mac and Cheese (from Martha Stewart)

Printable recipe

– INGREDIENTS –

  • 6 slices good-quality white bread, crusts removed, torn or diced into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for dish
  • 5 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar
  • 2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyere or 1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) grated pecorino Romano
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni

– PREPARATION –

  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish and set aside. Place bread pieces in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour butter into the bowl with bread, and toss. Set the bread pieces aside. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk. Melt the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When the butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  2. Slowly pour the hot milk into flour and butter mixture while whisking. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyere or 1 cup pecorino Romano. Set cheese sauce aside.
  4. Fill a large saucepan with water. Bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 fewer minutes than manufacturer’s directions, until outside of pasta is cooked and inside is underdone. (Different brands of macaroni cook at different rates – be sure to read the instructions.) Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water and drain well. Stir the macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar and 1/2 cup Gruyere or 1/4 cup pecorino Romano; scatter bread pieces over the top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes; serve hot.

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