How do you like your mac & cheese? Super cheesy? With a crunchy topping? Uber creamy? Well this recipe may just be for you. I recently made this Creamy Macaroni & Cheese recipe and it was fabulous. It had the perfect amount of cheese flavor, topped with buttery bread cubes for crunch and overall, a super creamy dish that beats any boxed version hands down!
The recipe comes from Cook's Illustrated, one of my favorite sources for recipes since they test recipes until they are perfected. This mac & cheese recipe is no exception - it really is perfect! Both Monterey Jack and sharp cheddar cheese is used for a nice blend of cheeses. An optional hint of cayenne pepper is great for those that want a little kick.
Creamy Macaroni & Cheese
recipe from Cook's Illustrated
1 pound elbow macaroni
1 tablespoon table salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons powdered mustard
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
5 cups milk (whole or 2% - I used whole)
8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (2 cups)
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups)
1 teaspoon table salt
2-3 slices of good quality white bread
2 tablespoons butter, melted
For the bread topping: cube 2-3 slices of good quality white bread. Toss with melted butter and saute in a pan over medium high heat until slightly toasted; set aside.
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat broiler. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in Dutch oven over high heat. Add macaroni and 1 tablespoon salt; cook until pasta is tender. Drain pasta and set aside in colander.
In now-empty Dutch oven, heat butter over medium-high heat until foaming. Add flour, mustard, and cayenne (if using) and whisk well to combine. Continue whisking until mixture becomes fragrant and deepens in color, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk; bring mixture to boil, whisking constantly (mixture must reach full boil to fully thicken). Reduce heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened to consistency of heavy cream, about 5 minutes. Off heat, whisk in cheeses and 1 teaspoon salt until cheeses are fully melted. Add pasta and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is steaming and heated through, about 6 minutes.
Transfer mixture to a broiler-safe 9 by 13-inch baking dish and sprinkle evenly with bread cubes. Broil until crumbs are deep golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes, rotating pan if necessary for even browning. Cool about 5 minutes, then serve.