Classic Macaroni and Cheese
A reliable recipe for classic macaroni and cheese is something everyone should have to fall back on. We use a combo of smooth melting, mild muenster and sharp cheddar for just the right blend of creamy and tangy, then we add a bit of white wine to give the whole dish a fondue-like flavor quality. The end result is a relatively light mac and cheese with classic comfort-food appeal.
- 10 ounces elbow macaroni
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2-1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/4 cup dry white white wine (or chicken broth)
- 2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 6 ounces muenster cheese, coarsely grated
- 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- Parmesan cheese for grating
Cook the elbow macaroni in a large pot of salted boiling water until barely tender. A little underdone is best because it will soften more while it bakes with the cheese sauce. Drain well and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350°F and generously butter a 2-1/2 quart oblong casserole dish.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture turns a light golden brown. Add the wine and whisk until smooth. Add the milk in a slow stream, whisking continually until blended. Add the Dijon-style mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Continue whisking until the mixture is smooth and velvety, 2 to 3 minutes.
Reduce the heat to low, add the muenster and cheddar cheeses and stir until the cheese has melted and the mixture is thick and creamy. Add the cooked macaroni and parsley. Mix well and transfer to the prepared casserole dish.
Sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the top of the casserole and top with grated parmesan cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and return to the oven for an additional 10 to 12 minutes, or until the crumb topping begins to brown.
Allow the casserole to stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Makes 6 side-dish servings
Macaroni and cheese tastes really great with tomatoes, so for a variation, try adding some sliced plum tomatoes before baking. Layer half of the macaroni-cheese mixture in the casserole, top with a layer of thin sliced plum tomatoes, add the remainder of the macaroni and another layer of tomatoes. Top with the breadcrumbs and grated parmesan and bake as directed.