I adore macaroni and cheese. I mean, what’s not to like? You might remember seeing this dish in my Thanksgiving recap pictures from last week… Here’s the full recipe. As a note, Gruyère cheese is kind of pricey. If you have access to a Trader Joe’s, I highly suggest you buy your cheeses there. They even have a Cheddar/Gruyère mèlange that works great in this recipe and is quite affordable. Supplement a block of that with an additional block of white cheddar and a small block of Gruyère to total about 20 ounces of cheese. But no biggie if you have more or less than that. Also, grating cheese is a big pain– if your food processor has a shredding disk, this is the perfect place to put that puppy to work.
1 pound elbow macaroni or other short pasta
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for the baking dish
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups milk (I use 2%), at room temperature
8 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated
12 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (I like white Cheddar)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (fresh grated is best!)
1 cup panko bread crumbs (or fresh made)
Olive oil or melted butter
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees if you are serving right away; no need to preheat if you’re going to take this to someone or refrigerate/freeze for later. Bring a large pot of salted (1 tablespoon of salt) water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, approximately 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.
Melt the butter in a large (4-quart) pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the room temperature milk and cook for a minute or two, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyère, Cheddar, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well.
Pour the mac and cheese into a buttered 3-quart baking dish. Top with an even layer of panko breadcrumbs, drizzle a little bit of olive oil or melted butter on top. If eating right away, bake for 30 minutes until sauce is bubbly and top is browned. If freezing or making ahead, bake the defrosted dish in a 375 degree oven covered with aluminum foil for 30 minutes, uncover and bake an additional 10-15 minutes until bubbly and the top is golden.