As long as I can remember, Macaroni and Cheese has been a traditional summer side dish. Beginning on Memorial Day and proudly showing up at most every consecutive American Holiday thereafter. A few years ago, I found an amazing Macaroni and Cheese recipe by Martha Stewart and now we have added what I consider the best macaroni and cheese we ever had to the mix. I’m excited to share it with you too!
A quick history lesson: When Thomas Jefferson returned from a trip to Italy with a pasta machine in hand, he began to serve macaroni and cheese at his dinner parties. Soon, pasta became a must have on every table. So, a shout out to TJ, look what he started in America! Pasta has become a staple in practically every pantry across the country.
Enjoy this amazing dish! It is incredible and is just as tasty served piping hot or as a cold side at a picnic. You will thank Mr. Jefferson, Martha and me for it!
Perfect Summertime Macaroni and Cheese
Source: Martha Stewart Living, February 1999
• 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for dish
• 6 slices good white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces
• 5 1/2 cups milk
• 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
• 4 1/2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese (about 18 ounces)
• 2 cups grated Gruyere cheese (about 8 ounces) or 1 1/4 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese (about 5 ounces)**
• 1 pound elbow macaroni- I use Barilla
** Since I’m Italian, I opted to use grated Pecorino Romano cheese instead of the called for grated Gruyere cheese.
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside.
Place bread in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour butter into bowl with bread, and toss. Set breadcrumbs aside.
2. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, whisking, 1 minute.
3. While whisking, slowly pour in hot milk. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.
4. Remove pan from heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar cheese, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyere or 1 cup Pecorino Romano; set cheese sauce aside.
5. Fill a large saucepan with water; bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 minutes less than directions, until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone. (Baking the dish will completely cook the pasta.) Transfer macaroni to a colander, rinse well under cold running water (removing the starch which interferes with smooth baking), and drain. Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.
6. Pour mixture into prepared dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup Gruyere or 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano, and breadcrumbs over top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool 5 minutes; serve hot.
Recipe serves 12 If that’s too much (crazy talk in my household) you can simply divide this recipe in half for a smaller dish. Use a 1 1/2-quart casserole dish.
we heartsters – do you have a mac & cheese recipe you pull out every summer when the picnic invites roll in? Share your secrets in the comments!
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