Grown-Up Mac and Cheese

  • Yield 4 to 6 servings

Though it takes a little more foresight to make mac and cheese from scratch, you’ll be so glad you did. This one is baked stovetop and finished under the broiler for a bubbly top without all the fuss.

For a small crowd of good buddies, we make this in a cast-iron frying pan. Smother the top with Muenster cheese, broil it, and bring it right to the table with four spoons and a stack of bowls. Watch them ooh and ah and dip back in for seconds while you sit back and enjoy their company. Serve with a large green salad tossed with a crisp, mustardy dressing.

Ingredients

-- Fine sea salt
10 ounces regular or whole-wheat rigatoni, gemelli, ziti or macaroni pasta
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons white whole-wheat or all-purpose/plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon warm water
1 1/2 cups whole, 2-percent, or 1-percent milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups grated Gruyere or Comte cheese
3 slices Muenster cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces)
-- Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Salt generously and cook the pasta until al dente, 10 to 12 minutes depending on the shape. Drain the pasta and set aside.
  2. In the same pot, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook until lightly toasted. Meanwhile, dissolve the mustard powder in the warm water. Add the milk and mustard to the pot and whisk until smooth. Cook over medium-low heat until the sauce thickens slightly. Whisk in eggs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the cayenne and stir constantly with a flat-edged wooden spoon, trailing the bottom of the pan to make sure it doesn’t curdle, until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Stir in the Cheddar and Gruyère cheeses over low heat. Remove from the heat as soon as about half the cheese is melted. Continue stirring off the heat until all the cheese melts. Add the cooked pasta and stir to coat. 
  3. Preheat the broiler/grill to high. 
  4. Transfer the macaroni to a 1-quart ovenproof baking dish and lay the Muenster cheese over the top. Broil on the top rack of the oven until golden and bubbly, about 2 minutes. Top with freshly ground pepper. Serve immediately.
Recipe reprinted with permission from Sarah Copeland’s The Newlywed Cookbook: Fresh Ideas and Modern Recipes for Cooking with and for Each Other. Photos by Sara Remmington (Chronicle, 2011).

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