Hey friends. Did the soothing effect of your Thanksgiving tryptophan wear off too soon? Are you still feeling the Black Friday frazzle? Are you weeping in your Maxwell House this morning because you have to return to work after four glorious days of non-work activities? Sounds like you could use some comfort food. And your old pal Abbie has just the thing.
Mac and cheese, people. I'm talking about mac and cheese. Warm. Gooey. Good for the soul.
You're sold, right? But wait! Put down that blue box! The best comfort foods do not require powdered cheese product. This is one you can make from scratch, and it's easy. I promise.
This recipe comes to us from Cook's Illustrated, which just published a new cookbook. It's called, as you might guess, The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook, and it's packed with 2,000 tested-to-work recipes. That's a lot of quality kitchen time, my friends.
If you'd like to add The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook to your collection, you can win one here. You could also give it as a gift -- to you mom, your gourmet uncle, or as an "I'm sorry" present to that little old lady you knocked down on your dash to score the last Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 at Walmart before dawn the day after Thanksgiving. I'm sure all would be forgiven. Little old ladies love to cook.
So, back to the book. If you want to win, details follow the recipe.
Classic Mac and Cheese (from Cook's Illustrated)
- 6 slices hearty white sandwich bread, torn into quarters
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter,3 tablespoons cut into 6 pieces and chilled
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- 5 cups milk
- 8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (2 cups)
- 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups)
Pulse bread and chilled butter in food processor to coarse crumbs, about 10 pulses; set aside.
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat broiler. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, stirring often, until tender; drain pasta.
Melt remaining 5 tablespoons butter in now-empty pot over medium-high heat. Add flour, mustard, 1 teaspoon salt, and cayenne, if using, and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture becomes fragrant and deepens in color, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk; bring mixture to boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Off heat, slowly whisk in cheeses until completely melted. Add pasta to sauce and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is steaming and heated through, about 6 minutes.
Transfer mixture to 13 by 9‑inch broiler-safe baking dish and sprinkle with bread-crumb mixture. Broil until topping is deep golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Cool casserole for 5 minutes before serving.
It's as easy as that, friends. Get something gooey going right now. (What, it's breakfast time? That's okay. You can make mac and cheese for breakfast. No one will judge.)
AND NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY!
To get the recipe for classic mac and cheese and 1,999 other tasty dishes, leave a comment here telling me your favorite food to make this season and how you follow this blog. You can comment until Sunday, Dec. 4, until 11:59 p.m. EST. Winner will be drawn at random the next day.
Good luck and good cheese.