The ultimate comfort food for many, macaroni and cheese is made to be enjoyed during these cold and dark evenings, preferably with a group of close friends to share the goodness (and calories!) with. While we’ve all fallen at a young age for the suspiciously orange though incredibly delicious boxed kind, we’ve thankfully graduated to the serious stuff with gusto since.
There are so many ways to enjoy it, so many cheeses and toppings, sauces and star ingredients which frankly all taste pretty amazing that picking one recipe is a challenge. I’ll make your life easy and share the classic, no-fuss mac & cheese recipe I still prefer over all those fancy preparations. Deeply satisfying, all the cheesy goodness you’d want, with no truffle oil or weird stuff thrown in. Just buy good ingredients and go at it the traditional way!
You start by making a classic Mornay sauce which is essentially a Béchamel with shredded cheese added to it.
Add the cooked (al dente!) pasta to the post and mix well – it’ll already look heavenly right there.
Pour the content into a buttered baking dish and top with the remaining cheese (Gruyere and sharp cheddar) and some breadcrumbs for texture.
Bake for 20-25 minutes and…voila! A golden, bubbly vision made with love.
You’ve got the essence of what a truly decadent mac and cheese should be: nothing more than tender, elbow-shaped pasta suspended in melted cheese of the highest quality, hiding under a golden-brown crust of cheese.
It’s easy, sinfully luscious, and I can assure you none of your friends will leave without asking you for the recipe…
- 1 pound radiatore, elbow macaroni, or fusili
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups whole milk
- 21/2 cups heavy cream
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 pound Gruyere, grated, divided
- 1/2 pound sharp white cheddar, grated, divided
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup unseasoned bread crumbs
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta al dente, according to the package directions. Drain, toss with the olive oil in a large bowl, and set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, combine the milk and cream in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat; bring to a gentle simmer.
- Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until the flour is fully incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Continue mixing with a wooden spoon until the mixture is a pale golden color, about 4 minutes. Slowly add the hot milk and cream mixture to the flour mixture, whisking constantly to incorporate. Bring to a simmer, whisking occasionally to keep the mixture from burning. Add half the Gruyere and half the cheddar and whisk until the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add the cooked pasta and toss well to combine. Pour the pasta into a buttered 9 x 13-inch baking dish or 3-quart gratin dish. Top with the remaining Gruyere and cheddar and sprinkle with the bread crumbs. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden and bubbly. Allow the mac and cheese to rest for 5 minutes before serving.