I’m planning on making the baked macaroni and cheese I’m about to tell you about next week. Originally, I thought about waiting to get some better photos before sharing the recipe with you. But, to do so seemed cruel.
It’s that good.
I admit, I had my doubts. Midway through preparing it, that maxim about testing out recipes before making them for company came to mind. The texture of the sauce suggested that the egg had not been tempered properly. The liquids weren’t thickening. I mixed in the pasta and it was a soupy mess.
Andrea, who was helping me cook, suggested that we taste it. The flavor was good. We comforted ourselves with that. And, baked the first batch of it since, really, there were twenty people coming and although the bean salad was good, that wasn’t going to be enough for the vegetarians.
Once it finished baking, I realized the genius of the dish. The sauce is just soupy enough to ensure that the final baked product is perfectly creamy while the pasta remains perfectly cooked. And, the topping? Seriously, the best part. Crunchy and golden and I couldn’t make a second batch fast enough for all of my guests. Many were waiting by the kitchen for the second batch to be ready.
The macaroni and cheese recipe doubles easily, so it’s the perfect hearty dish to serve to a crowd as the weather gets cold.
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown
1/2 pound elbow macaroni
6 TBS butter, divided
3 TBS flour
1 tablespoon powdered mustard
3 cups milk
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 large egg
12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup panko bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it’s free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.
Temper in the egg. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.
Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.