The ultimate baked macaroni and cheese recipe with a crispy Parmesan-breadcrumb topping.
Course Main Dishes
Essential Ingredient Cheese
Prep Time 35minutes
Cook Time 30minutes
Total Time 1hour5minutes
1/2 cupall-purpose flour
5 1/2cupswhole milk
1/2teaspoonfreshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoonfine sea salt
1/2 teaspoonfreshly ground black pepper
2cupsgrated cheddar cheese
1cupfreshly grated Parmesan cheese
1lbCappelletti pastaor Orechiette
2 Tablespoonssalted buttermelted
Preheat oven to 375°F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
On the stovetop over medium heat, melt the butter in a large heavy-bottomed braiser (a cooking vessel halfway between a pot and a pan). The braiser should be both stovetop and oven safe because we're going to do everything in one pot. A Dutch oven works too. When the butter is bubbling, dump in the flour and whisk vigorously until smooth. Cook this paste, called a "roux", for 1 minute, whisking slowly.
Slowly pour 2 cups of milk into the roux and whisk to combine. This will take a few minutes - don't rush it. You want to whisk until there are no lumps and it's a smooth sauce. Whisk in the Dijon mustard, nutmeg, salt and pepper, followed by the remaining milk.
Over medium-low heat, bring this cream sauce (now called a béchamel) to a simmer, whisking occasionally. Take care not to let it burn; use a spatula to scrape the bottom of the pot. It will thicken slightly. Stir cheddar cheese and 3/4 cup of parmesan cheese into the sauce and remove from heat.
In rapidly boiling, salted water, cook the pasta 1 minute less than the package directions (about 8 minutes). Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Drain pasta well in a colander.
Tumble the pasta into the béchamel sauce and stir to coat the pasta thoroughly. At this point you have deluxe stovetop mac & cheese and you can dish it into bowl to enjoy.
For baked mac & cheese, keep going. In a small bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs and melted butter. Stir in the remaining 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over the top of the creamy pasta.
Place the pot on the middle shelf of the preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes until the sauce is bubbling around the edges and the breadcrumbs are browned. Serve hot!
For extra flavour, use aged cheddar cheese and use a combination of both cheddar and freshly grated parmesan cheese.