Feature

Recipe of the week: An American classic: Rediscovering mac ’n’ cheese

Mac ’n’ cheese had its 15 minutes of retro fame a few years ago, said Betty Hallock in the Los Angeles Times. It was “a veritable mac ’n’ cheese renaissance.” Every trendy restaurant in town was serving up a version. Some added lobster (“no thanks”), or e

Mac ’n’ cheese had its 15 minutes of retro fame a few years ago, said Betty Hallock in the Los Angeles Times. It was “a veritable mac ’n’ cheese renaissance.” Every trendy restaurant in town was serving up a version. Some added lobster (“no thanks”), or even seared tuna on top (“yes, it’s true”), or used an esoteric cheese (“cheddar will do”).

Don’t fall for any of those gimmicks, or for fancy names such as “KillerMac ’n’ Cheese,” either. What you want is not mac ’n’ cheese filledwith crab, bacon, or scallions, or made with smoked Gouda. You want mac ’n’ cheese that tastes like mac ’n’ cheese—the old-fashioned, good old American kind. “Eightysix the crab.”

Recipe of the weekReally the Best-Ever Mac ’n’ Cheese

Note: Use large shells such as chiocciole or conchiglie, or large elbow macaroni.

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs1 tsp melted butter1/2 cup (1 stick) butter1/2 cup flour5 cups milk1/2 tsp dry mustard1/4 tsp white pepper1/4 tsp cayenne pepper1/8 tsp nutmeg1 tsp salt1 bay leaf4 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese, divided3 cups shredded Swiss Gruyère cheese1 lb shells or elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions insalted water1/2 cup heavy cream

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the panko bread crumbs with melted butter on a small baking pan. Toast the bread crumbs until lightly browned,about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a large saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat until melted, then stir in the flour. Heat and stir until the mixture is smooth and bubbling, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the milk. Add the dry mustard, white and cayenne pepper, nutmeg, salt, and bay leaf. Heat and stir to boiling, then reduce heat to a low simmer and cook 30 minutes,stirring occasionally. Remove the bay leaf.

Stir in 3 cups of the cheddar and all the Gruyère until melted. Pour the sauce over the cooked macaroni in a large bowl, stirring until all of themacaroni is coated. Pour the macaroni into a well-buttered 9-by-13-inch casserole. Drizzle heavy cream around the edges of the casserole. Sprinkle on it the remaining 1 cup cheddar, then the toasted bread crumbs.

Cover the casserole with aluminum foil. Bake 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake uncovered an additional 10 minutes. Put under a preheated broiler for 5 minutes. Serves 16.

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