Classic Mac and Cheese

May 20, 2011 at 10:53 am 1 comment

There aren’t too many mac and cheese recipes that I try and actually love. I keep searching ad trying new recipes hoping that one day I will find the perfect version. When I saw this Cook’s Illustrated version I figured it was worth a shot since they never let me down. I was pleased with this version and would definitely make it again. It’s makes a very large batch and I think next time I would bake in two smaller pans and freeze one for a quick weeknight meal.

Classic Mac and Cheese
bread crumb topping (see below)
1 pound pasta shapes
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
6 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
3 1/2 cups milk (low-fat is fine)
1 pound colby jack cheese, shredded (about 4 cups)
8 oz extra-sharp cheddar, shredded (about 2 cups)
ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Bring water to a boil in a large dutch oven set over high heat.  Add 1 tablespoon of salt and the pasta, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.  Drain the pasta and leave in the colander.

Wipe the pot dry, and add the butter, and set it over medium heat until melted.  Stir in the garlic, mustard, and cayenne, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in the flour, and cook, stirring constantly, until golden, about 1 minute.  Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and milk, and bring to a simmer.  Whisking often, cook until large bubbles form on the surface and the sauce is slightly thickened, about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the cheeses until completely melted.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Stir the drained pasta into the cheese sauce, breaking up any clumps, until well combined.  Pour into a lightly greased 9×13 inch baking dish and sprinkle with crumb topping.

Bake uncovered, until the sauce is bubbling and the crumbs are crisp, 25-35 minutes.

To store and serve later:  Wrap the dish tightly with foil, and refrigerate for up to 2 days.  To serve, bake in a 400 degree oven until the filling is hot throughout, about 40-45 minutes.  Remove the foil and continue to cook until the crumbs are crisp, 15-20 minutes.

Bread Crumb Topping
4 slices white sandwich bread, quartered
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. 

Pulse the bread and butter in a food processor to coarse crumbs, about 6 pulses.  Spread the crumbs out over a rimmed baking sheet.  Bake, stirring occasionally, until golden and dry, 20-30 minutes.  Let the crumbs cool, then toss with parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Source: Cook’s Illustrated Best Make Ahead Recipes via Pink Parsley


Entry filed under: main dish, Pasta.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Stephanie  |  July 17, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    Oooh, I made this as a side to go with ribs that my husband smoked and it’s the best mac & cheese I’ve ever made! I followed the recipe as written with the exception that I didn’t add the crumb topping. I just prefer my mac & cheese without it. I baked off half right away to go with dinner and I put half in the freezer for a later time. We still have plenty left over from dinner that we’ll be enjoying leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Thanks for a great recipe!

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