Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Everyone has grown up with mac ‘n’ cheese. The blue box with the orange dinosaur, or maybe your family was fancy and used that yellow block of self-proclaimed “processed cheese product.” Either way, there comes a moment when you realize that there is so much more to this dish. It’s like a rite of passage into adulthood—when you are finally able to serve your favorite childhood meal to your adult friends with no sense of shame.
I recently started working at a cheese magazine. Yeah, there is such a thing. And it’s exactly what you would think: boxes of cheese arriving at our door daily, cheese tastings as a required part of your job, extra cheese being handed out to everyone. And now with more cheese than I know what to do with (just kidding, I know exactly what to do with it), I have been perfecting my family’s mac ‘n’ cheese recipe. Seriously, this recipe is the culmination of years of family tradition, hours of free-time, and over $200 of cheese in my refrigerator.

Mac ‘n’ Cheese
Ok, so I know I say cheddar and Parmesan. But really, do whatever cheeses you want. I think I did an aged cheddar with asiago. Follow your tastebuds.

1 lb uncooked elbow macaroni
¾ cup butter
6 Tbsp flour
5 cups whole milk
6¾ cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
½ cups grated Parmesan
½ tsp nutmeg
Salt and ground black pepper
1½ cups bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350oF.
Cook macaroni until al dante. Drain well and transfer to another bowl, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
Add ½ cup butter to the now-empty pot. Reduce heat to medium and heat until butter is melted. Stir in flour. Cook uncovered for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add milk and heat to a boil, continuing to stir. Cook for another 3 minutes, or until mixture is thickened and smooth, stirring occasionally. Stir in 6 cups cheddar cheese, ¼ cup Parmesan, nutmeg, salt, and pepper, until cheeses are melted, stirring the whole time. Remove from heat.
Combine cheese mixture, macaroni, and reserved cooking water together.
Melt remaining ¼ cup butter. Mix together melted butter, bread crumbs, ¾ cup cheddar cheese, and ¼ cup Parmesan.
Pour macaroni mixture into a greased pan. Top with bread crumb mixture. Cook for 20 minutes, until the top is a beautiful golden brown.


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