Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Heavenly Mac and Cheese

There are infinite recipes for mac and cheese with different pastas, cheeses, vegetables, and toppings.  Everyone has a recipe that they are always looking to improve on.  Here's one I came across by Ina Garten (AKA The Barefoot Contessa) that is now at the top of my list (creamy and cheesy, a nice crunchy bite with the breadcrumbs, and a nice surprise with tomatoes):

Kosher salt
Vegetable oil
1 lb - Cavatappi Pasta
1 qt - Milk
8 tbsp - Unsalted Butter (1 stick - divided)
1/2 cup - All-purpose Flour
12 oz - Gruyere (grated)
8 oz - Extra-Sharp Cheddar (grated)
1/2 tspn - Freshly Ground Pepper
1/2 tspn - Freshly Ground Nutmeg
4 - Small Tomatoes on the Vine (sliced)
5 - Slices of Potato Bread (minced)
1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2) In a large pot, drizzle oil into boiling salted water. Add the cavatappi pasta and cook according to the directions on the package (10 minutes) and drain well.
3) In a small saucepan. heat the milk, but don't boil it. 
4) In a large saucepan, melt 6 tablespoons of butter and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. 
4) Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. 
5) Pour into a 3-quart baking dish or ramekins.
6) Slice the tomatoes and arrange on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. 
7) Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the pasta is browned on the top.
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