As we turn the corner to fall, there is nothing better than little noodles surrounded by ooey gooey cheese, baked to perfection with a fresh breadcrumb topping and heavily sprinkled with bacon! This Perfect Mac ‘n Cheese will warm your tummy and put a smile on your face! And with us finally feeling the chill in the weather around here, this is the perfect dish to make as you bond with your family indoors and begin thinking about all the wonderfully comforting things about this season!
The Perfect Mac ‘n Cheese
(Inspired by Martha Stewart)
This recipe serves 12, however you can easily divide it in half; just use a 1 1/2-quart casserole dish.
6 slices good-quality white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4 to 1/2-inch pieces
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for dish
4 cups milk (warmed)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyère
1 pound elbow macaroni
8 slices bacon, cooked and coarsely chopped for garnish
Please note, this recipe may take a bit of multi-tasking. I like to cook the macaroni and make the cheese sauce at the same time. If you prefer not to do it that way, you can make the cheese sauce first, and then cook the macaroni. To me, I like to have both done around the same time.
First, heat your oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish and set aside. Then place bread pieces in a medium bowl. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and pour over the bread, toss gently and set aside.
Begin by preparing to cook the macaroni; fill a large pot with water, and bring to a boil.
While the water is getting to temperature, start making the cheese sauce. In a large high-sided skillet, met the remaining 6 tablespoons butter over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute. Then slowly pour the warmed milk into flour-butter mixture while whisking. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick, around 5 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar cheese, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyère. Set cheese sauce aside.
At this point your water should be boiling, add the macaroni; cook about 5 minutes, or until your pasta is al dente. Transfer the macaroni to a colander and drain well. Stir macaroni into the cheese sauce (or if your skillet is not large enough, pour the macaroni back into the large pot, then pour the cheese sauce into the pot) stir to combine.
Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup Gruyère cheese; scatter breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until browned on top, about 30-45 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Scoop into a large bowl and sprinkle generously with the chopped bacon.
This Perfect Mac n’ Cheese is truly divine! My family loved it and I hope yours will too!
Here’s to a comfortingly cozy season!