OK, This is the best home made Mac and Cheese. No, really. It is rich, creamy, has a crunchy topping, baked all warm and gooey. I have adapted it from a Martha Stewart recipe. She adds pecorino romano to the sauce, black pepper and cayenne, I do not, among other changes... . Have 45 minutes to do this. I get the water boiling and cook the pasta while I prepare the sauce. Speeds things up.
Panko breadcrumbs 1 cup
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for dish
1/2 small onion, minced
3 1/2 cups milk
2 cups half and half
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar
2 cups grated Gruyere
1 pound elbow macaroni
Stir constantly--do not brown
1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour butter into the bowl with the crumbs , and toss. Set aside. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and stir over medium heat until translucent, do not brown. Then add flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.
2. Slowly milk by 1/2 cup increments into flour-butter mixture while whisking. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.
3. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in nutmeg, 3 1/2 cups cheddar, and the Gruyere. Set cheese sauce aside.
stirring the cheese in the hot milk mixture
before the breadcrumbs
4. Meanwhile, cook macaroni 2 to 3 fewer minutes than manufacturer's directions until al-dente. Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.
5. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle cheese, then breadcrumbs and black pepper over the top. Bake until browned on top and bubbling, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes; serve with a salad to mitigate the heart damage--haha!