Recently Sarah Shaker, of the blog Bright Lights, My city, posted a review of Mac Bar and also asked me via twitter what my favorite comfort was. My easy answer was meatloaf with mashed potatoes and green beans. But I do love mac and cheese. Before I moved to NYC I had a slight addiction to Wegmans boxed version. High quality mac and cheese? Certainly not. Guilty pleasure? Sure is.
It’s been years since I made mac and cheese at home. Just recently I purchased a couple small cast iron skillets which would be perfect for individual mac and cheese meals. I’ll admit, my meal tonight was made in a dutch oven, but I did serve it them. When I do reheat the mac, Ill do it in those skillets. Hope you enjoy, this recipe is courtesy of Mark Bittman.
1 pound pasta, elbow, shell, ziti (or your own choice)
2 1/2 cups milk (low-fat is fine too, and I even used lactose free)
2 bay leaves
4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups grated cheese, sharp cheddar or similar
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs (fresh or store bought if necessary)
Preheat oven to 400. Bring a large of water to boil, seasoned well with salt.
Cook milk, with bay leaves in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. When small bubbles begin to form around the edges of the milk, about 5 minutes, remove from heat.
Cook pasta about 2-3 minutes less than the directions on the box say, until very al dente. Drain pasta, rinse with cold water to stop cooking and drain well and place in a large bowl.
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add 3 tablespoons of butter. When the butter starts to foam, add flour and whisk to mix. Cook, stirring regularly, for about 4-5 minutes, until it begins to brown. Remove bay leaves from milk and add about 1/4 cup to butter/flour mixture. Whisk well and once it becomes smooth, add a little more milk at a time, whisking, almost like making risotto. Once milk has been added, mix in cheddar cheese.
Pour sauce over pasta and mix. Add Parmesan cheese, and season with salt and pepper. Pour mixture into a greased 9×13 baking pan (dutch oven works too). Top with bread crumbs and cook 15-17 minutes, or until bubbling and browned. Serve hot. Enjoy!!