Macaroni and Cheese is one of those things I make up as I go along, so the recipe is different every time, which is both good and bad. Good because I can use up whatever cheese is in the fridge (and there is always a lot) and bad because when I make a good batch I can’t always re-create it the next time.
My quest to make the perfect Mac n’ Cheese always hinges on finding the right magic to ensure the sauce is still creamy after it comes out of the oven. So when I made it last week and it finally turned out to be exactly what I wanted I knew the recipe had to be written down immediately. But before that I had to regal my husband with a lengthy discussion about what made this the right combination. He puts up with it but I know there are many things he'd rather do than listen to me endlessly analyze the finer points of a Macaroni and Cheese recipe. In the interest of marital harmony I will spare him any further discussion on the matter and break down my thoughts on the subject here.
Macaroni and Cheese invariably starts with a béchamel or white sauce. In the past I have always cooked the sauce until it is really thick and coating the back of a wooden spoon. This time I decided to cook the sauce so that it was a little looser than usual. Then I made sure not to add too much cheese, but I compensated for that by adding a really sharp aged cheddar (the same 6 year old variety from the Empire Cheese factory that I used in my biscuit recipe.) Lastly, I added a small package of goats cheese to the sauce. The result was creamy, cheesy and exactly what I want a Macaroni and Cheese to be.
Really Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
1 small onion finely diced
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 cups milk
1 cup grated aged cheddar
1/2 cup grated medium cheddar
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1 small package of goats cheese
1 lb pasta of your choice
1/2 additional grated cheese for topping
1/4 cup bread crumbs for topping
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of a large baking dish.
Cook the pasta according to directions on the package. Meanwhile, in a large sauce pan, cook diced onion in the butter until tender but not brown. Add flour, cayenne, mustard, and pepper and cook one minute. Add milk all at once. Cook and stir constantly over medium heat until sauce is thickened to desired consistency. Add cheeses and stir until melted. Season to taste with salt. Stir cooked macaroni into cheese sauce to combine and transfer to prepared dish. In small bowl mix additional grated cheese and bread crumbs. Spread over top of macaroni and cheese mixture and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until brown and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.