Mac and Cheese

Classic  Mac and Cheese is a great comfort food.  This is a traditional style, using a bechamel base and lots of extra sharp cheddar cheese for flavor.

Mac and Cheese with toasted Parmesan cheese topping

The addition of of cayenne pepper offers a flavor boost rather than heat, especially if using a smaller amount.  Feel free to include flavorsome add-ins:  Sriracha, ham chunks, tender broccoli bits – whatever you’d like.  This makes 8 – 10 servings.  Halve the recipe for a smaller dish.  Enjoy!

Mac and Cheese
makes 8 – 10 servings

1 LB dry pasta
1 LB sharp cheddar cheese
1 quart whole milk or milk/cream mixture
1 stick butter
1/3 cup flour
2 tsp. sea salt
fresh ground pepper
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, optional

Optional: for bread crumb topping
three slices sour loaf
3 TB butter, melted

Optional:
grate 1 oz of parmesan cheese over the prepared Mac and Cheese, then broil

Cook pasta as directed. Drain and set aside. Make a blond roux with butter and flour. Whisk in milk/cream mixture and cook until thickened. Add salt, pepper and cheese. Stir just until cheese is incorporated. Add sauce to pasta. Pour pasta/sauce mixture into a 9 X 13 baking pan.

Whirl bread in food processor until crumbs. Toss with melted butter. Top pasta/sauce mixture with bread crumbs or parmesan cheese. Bake at 425 for about 20 minutes or until crumbs are toasty, sauce is bubbly.

Notes:
Use a good quality sharp cheddar cheese. Or, try a blend of any flavorful cheese: gruyere, monterey jack, ementhaler, etc.

For the bechamel, any combination of milk and cream is OK up to 1/2 cream.  For an extra tangy flavor, I use 2 cups lowfat milk, 1 cup cream and 1 cup buttermilk.

For the pasta, many short shapes will work. Try the classic macaroni, or substitute fusili, penne, gemele.

Mac and Cheese, closeup

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