The “Classic” from Gourmet Magazine - Recipe adapted from: The Gourmet Cookbook edited by Ruth Reichl (Houghton Mifflin)
The editors of Gourmet Magazine say, “This is arguably the best mac and cheese on the planet. One secret is a dollop of Dijon mustard, which tempers the richness, in effect saving the dish from itself. Another secret is the fluffy, crisp Japanese bread crumbs called panko used in the topping. For those who prefer a greater ratio of crunchy topping to creamy center, we suggest splitting the macaroni and cheese between two three-quart shallow baking dishes and doubling the topping recipe, dividing it between the two.”
SERVES 8, AS A MAIN COURSE - OR - 12 TO 14, AS A SIDE DISH
For the topping:
1/4 stick (2 tablespoons), unsalted butter - melted
2 cups, panko (Japanese bread crumbs) or coarse dry bread crumbs 1 cup (about 4 ounces), extra-sharp Cheddar - coarsely grated
For the cheese sauce and macaroni:
3 tablespoons, unsalted butter
3 tablespoons, all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon, red pepper flakes
2 3/4 cups, whole milk
3/4 cup, heavy cream
4 cups (about 1 pound), extra-sharp Cheddar - coarsely grated
2 teaspoons, Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons, salt
1/4 teaspoon, freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound, elbow macaroni
Put a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 3-quart shallow baking dish.
To Make the Topping:
In a bowl, stir together the melted butter, panko, and 1 cup of cheese until well combined.
To Make the Sauce:
Melt the 3 tablespoons of butter in a 5-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat. Whisk in the flour and red pepper flakes and cook, whisking, for 3 minutes to make a roux. Whisk in the milk in a slow stream, then bring the sauce to a boil, whisking constantly. Simmer, whisking occasionally, for 3 minutes. Stir in the cream, the 4 cups of Cheddar, mustard, salt and pepper. Remove the pot from the heat and cover the surface of the sauce with wax paper to prevent a skin from forming.
To Cook the Macaroni and Assemble the Dish:
In a 6-quart pot of boiling salted water (1 tablespoon salt per every 4 quarts water), cook the macaroni until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the macaroni.
In a large bowl, stir together the cooked macaroni, the reserved cooking water, and the sauce, then transfer the mixture to the buttered baking dish (mixture will be loose).
Sprinkle the topping evenly over the macaroni. Bake in the preheated oven until the top is golden and bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes.
The topping can be made up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated, covered.
with questions or comments about this web site.