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Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese

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Serves 8 to 10.
By Dennis W. Viau; modified from several recipes.

There are many variations of Mac & Cheese, including the stuff that comes in a blue box. Some of the more “classic” variants are topped with bread crumbs and baked. Although I used mild cheddar cheese (because I prefer the flavor) you can use any sharpness of cheddar you like. Indeed, some recipes call for the sharpest cheese.

Ingredients:

For the white sauce:
4 cups (950ml) whole milk
8 tablespoons (4 oz./113g) butter
½ cup (2½ oz./71g) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
To assemble:
4 to 6 quarts (about 5 liters) water, salted
1 pound (454g) elbow (or other) macaroni
8 ounces (227g) cheddar cheese (any sharpness), shredded (about 3 cups)
3 ounces (85g) grated Romano cheese (about 1 cup)
¾ cup panko bread crumbs (60g) optional)

Directions:

To make the white sauce:

Heat the milk in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until it just comes to a simmer, then turn off the heat and set aside.

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk constantly until the mixture turns light brown in color, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

While whisking constantly, slowly add the hot milk to the flour mixture until evenly combined and smooth.

Return the saucepan to medium-high heat and while whisking constantly, cook until the sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the salt, taste, and season with additional salt if desired. Remove from the heat and set aside.

To assemble:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until it’s almost al dente (just on the edge of being underdone), then drain and rinse with cold water; set aside. (If you plan to top the macaroni and cheese with panko and bake it, heat the oven to 400°F (200°C) and arrange a rack in the middle of the oven.)

Place the saucepan of white sauce over medium heat and stir in both cheeses just until melted and smooth. Add the pasta and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is heated through and steaming, about 2 to 4 minutes. Serve immediately or, if baking, transfer to a large baking dish, sprinkle with the panko, and bake until bubbling and brown on top, 25 to 30 minutes.