Mac and Cheese

by angelika on November 27, 2010

Another dish we served at Little Man’s pirate party was “Buried Treasure Mac and Cheese”. I got small orecchiette pasta which sort of resembles doubloons or some kind of old world coin. As best as I could find anyway. Kids seem to universally love mac and cheese, but sadly many only have the pleasure of the boxed variety. Now, we also succumb to the Annie’s Mac and Cheese case at Costco, it’s a good deal and super fast and easy. The thing is, making Mac and Cheese from scratch isn’t much harder, and it is infinitely better!

Mac and Cheese

1 lb pasta of your choice
4 cups milk 
 1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
3 cups gruyere or emmentaler, grated 
3 cups sharp cheddar, grated
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg
This is basically a Barefoot Contessa recipe. She serves it with breadcrumbs and sliced tomatoes on top. It is absolutely heavenly this way, but for the kids I kept it basic. I also used more cheddar and less swiss. I used Emmentaler instead of Gruyere as it is a touch milder and I was serving kids. I actually prefer Gruyere myself. 
Preheat the oven to 375º. Boil salted water in a pot and cook the pasta about 2 minutes less than the package says. You want it very al dente, as it will continue to cook in the oven. 
Heat the milk, but be careful not to scald it. Melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk. Cook on low heat for a few minutes, whisking. You are cooking the raw flour flavor out. Add the warm milk and whisk. Continue to cook the milk and flour, whisking often, until the sauce begins to thicken. 

Take the milk off the heat and add the shredded cheese. If you have  food processor, this is a great time to use it. I had to double this recipe to feed my party guests, and that is a lot of cheese to grate by hand. I was so very thankful I was able to find the grating attachment just when I needed it. Stir in the cheese either with the whisk or a wood spoon. Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg. I always grate a nutmeg fresh so I just eyeball it. I think the fresh nutmeg taste infinitely better then the jarred variety. Taste the cheese sauce and adjust the seasoning if you like. 
Combine the cheese sauce and the pasta in a casserole dish. Bake at 375º until golden and bubbly. About 30 minutes. Let cool for about 10 before you serve. 
A votre santé! 

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