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Macaroni and Cheese
1/2 pound dried elbow macaroni, large size
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
3 cups whole or low-fat milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
10 ounces sharp white Cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (about 21/4 cups)
4 to 5 ounces Swiss-style Gruyere cheese, coarsely grated (about 1 cup)
2 ounces dry Jack cheese, finely grated (about 1/4 cup)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 11/2-quart soufflé dish or other
straight-sided casserole. Set aside.
Bring a medium-size pot of water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook 2 to 3
minutes less than the package's directions suggest. You want the pasta to be
underdone. Transfer the macaroni to a colander, drain, and rinse with cold
water. Shake off as much excess water as possible and set aside.
In a large sauté pan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the bread crumbs and
stir until thoroughly coated. Put the crumbs on a small plate and set aside.
Wipe out the pan with a paper towel and set aside.
In a small saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat until very hot but not
In the sauté pan you used for the bread crumbs, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons
butter over medium heat. When the butter begins to bubble, add the flour and
stir until cooked, about 1 minute. Slowly pour in the hot milk and whisk
continuously until all of the milk is incorporated and the sauce has begun to
thicken, about 5 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the salt, black pepper, cayenne, 1 1/2 cups
of the Cheddar, 3/4 cup of the Gruyere, and all of the dry Jack. Mix well until
all the cheese has melted.
Add the cooled macaroni to the cheese sauce and pour the mixture into the
prepared dish or casserole. Sprinkle with the remaining Cheddar and Gruyere, and
top with the bread crumbs. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the bread crumbs
are golden brown and the casserole is bubbling (or until you no longer can
resist the aroma of melting cheese permeating your home).
Let sit for 5 minutes, then serve.
Makes 4 servings.