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PIECE OF CAKE, PEACE OF MIND

Exploring, creating, & reflecting one day at a time


So like I said in my last post, it’s finally beginning to feel like summer. My friend Billy hosted a barbecue at his house the other day and I realized it was the perfect opportunity to try out a baked mac & cheese recipe I had wanted to use for a while. It comes from Ina Garten, yet again, but what can I say? Her recipes are always crowd-pleasing.

And this one was no exception! It was fairly easy to make, and I made a couple of adjustments to the original recipe. With its gooey cheesy sauce and the crispy breadcrumb crust, how could you not enjoy baked mac & cheese?

A couple of side notes:

Don’t know how to make fresh breadcrumbs? It’s almost too easy.  De-crust your bread slices (I used Trader Joe’s “Whole Wheat White Bread”). Cut the bread into chunks and toss them into a food processor. That’s it. Yeah, easy.

Also, I opted to use Cavatappi pasta over tradition elbow macaroni. The noodles are a little bigger and “twistier” so they soak up the cheesy goodness better than their little cousins.

BAKED MAC & CHEESE

INGREDIENTS

  • Kosher salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi
  • 1 quart milk
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 8 ounces Jarslberg, grated
  • 12 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.
  3. 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 Jarlsberg, Cheddar, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish.
  4. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, 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.
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