I’m convinced, despite the fact that the weatherman says there’s 80 degree weather expected on Sunday, that fall is here to stay. And I’m pretty psyched. I’ve got my big grandpa sweaters out and as much as I love flip-flops (yeah, I’m that kinda girl), my boots are feeling neglected and I’m ready for my cashmere socks. And what is a better fall food than something warm, snuggly and comforting? And whats the ultimate comfort food?
Macaroni and cheese. Now the name may make you think of the decidedly un-gourmet powdered stuff Kraft makes (I stumbled upon this link when looking for the Kraft website- and may I just say: LMFAO), or bad grammar school lunches (my grammar school actually made amazing mac-n-cheese, strangely enough) or even the Velveeta kind (which is actually pretty good, all things considered)… but this is not that. This is a more grown-up version, but not too grown-up. I took a base (Ina Garten’s) recipe and switched things around here and there and made it my own, because I love me some cavatappi, but I do not like Gruyere cheese OR tomatoes in my macaroni and cheese. So sue me.
COMFORTING & CREAMY MACARONI AND CHEESE (MY WAY)
Go to the store and get:
- Kosher salt
- Vegetable oil
- 1 pound cavatappi (I actually used one pound cavatappi and a half pound smaller gourmet cavatappi I had in the house, it added to the texture and it looked pretty cute, haha)
- 1 quart milk
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups sharp or extra sharp Cheddar, grated
- 1 ½ cups mild Cheddar, grated (or Asagio, grated)
- ½ cup Mozzarella cheese, grated*
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½-1 cup bread crumbs, depending on how much you like
Then you have to:
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the cavatappi and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.
- Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large (4-quart) pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth.
- Off the heat, add the Cheddar, Asagio, Mozzarella, ½ cup Parmesan, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked cavatappi and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish.
- Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the bread crumbs and remainder of the Parmesan, and sprinkle on the top.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.
The best macaroni and cheese ever. For serious. And filling? After a half a bowl you can barely move. And this makes a LOT of food, so its great to make and put away for leftovers another night.