By around mid-January, when it’s freezing outside and I’ve been doing my best for awhile now to eat well and cleanly and make it to the gym on a semi-daily basis, I just really want to hunker down in my PJ pants and eat a steaming bowlful of mac & cheese – heavy on the cheese – on the couch. Although I usually wing it – macaroni or small shells doused in a quick cheese sauce made by whisking butter, flour and water to a creamy white sauce, then stirring in whatever cheese happens to be in the door of the fridge, I’m always on the lookout for a new Best Recipe. When Martha declared hers perfect, I had to give it a go.
I still took liberties with it, getting rid of the nutmeg and cayenne and halving the recipe (or it would make a ton!) – feel free to double it if you want lots.
Martha Stewart’s Perfect Mac & Cheese
1/2 lb. elbow macaroni or small shells
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
1 tsp salt
3 cups grated sharp white cheddar, Gouda, or other meltable cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 slices white or whole wheat bread
In a large pot, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Butter a casserole dish, or enough ramekins, to accommodate the pasta; set aside.
In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter and when it bubbles, add flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.
Slowly pour the milk into flour-butter mixture, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and thickens. Add the salt and stir in the cheeses, leaving half the Parmesan for the topping.
Stir macaroni into the cheese sauce, or vice versa. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish(es). Tear the bread into pieces and whiz it into crumbs, adding the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over the macaroni and bake for 30 minutes, until golden and bubbly. Serves 6.