Comfort Zone

I’ve never been one of those girls who craves salads.

Sure I love vegetables and healthy foods, but when it comes to my deepest desires, its comfort food that I long for.

And I don’t discriminate; from grilled cheese with tomato soup, to spaghetti and meatballs, I love it all.

There is however, one ultimate comfort food, the King of Comfort Food; nothing tops the childhood favorite, Macaroni & Cheese.

One of the best mac & cheese dishes is one my friend made for our first Wine Club over three years ago. Since then, I’ve made this Martha Stewart recipe several times, so I knew it would be the perfect thing to serve on New Year’s Day. The mix of sharp white cheddar and Gruyère cheese creates a creamy sauce that has a nice bite.

Now this is crave-worthy. 

Perfect Macaroni & Cheese

Yield: 12 servings

What You Need

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for dish
  • 5½ cups milk
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4½ cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar
  • 2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyère or 1¼ cups (about 5 ounces) grated pecorino Romano (Note: I suggest adding 3 cups of Gruyère, instead of 2!)
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • Panko breadcrumbs

What To Do

  1. Heat the oven to 375°. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside.
  2. Melt 6 tablespoons butter in a medium-sized pot. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.
  3. Slowly pour hot milk into flour-butter mixture while whisking. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick. Be patient, this could take a while, but make sure it thickens.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar, and 1½ cups Gruyère or 1 cup pecorino Romano. Set cheese sauce aside.
  5. Fill a large saucepan with water. Bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 minutes less than the manufacturer’s directions, until outside of pasta is cook and inside is underdone.
  6. Transfer macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.
  7. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining 1½ cups cheddar and ½ cup Gruyère or ¼ cup pecorino Romano; scatter breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Note: I turned my broiler on for the last 3 or 4 minutes to get it browned on top.
  8. - Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes; serve.

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