Over the last several months, I've been in search of the "perfect" macaroni and cheese recipe. They are either too dry, not enough flavor or (gulp) too Velveeta'y!
So, yesterday I decided to take the bull by the horns and make up my own version that is a little bit of each recipe that I've made in the last 3 months...... it started with America's Test Kitchen's recipe, I love the taste of the different cheeses, but had a weird texture. Martha Stewarts is DIVINE, but it's got $30 worth of cheese in it; too expensive! Then, I tried my friend Audrey's; delicious, creamy and had a wonderfully flavorful sourdough crumb topping, but it was Velveeta. Last was The Pioneer Woman's recipe, a flavor explosion (thanks to the dry mustard!) and great cheese flavor, but was a little too dry for my taste buds and it was missing a bread crumb topping.
So, I set out yesterday to sort of combine them all. Here's what I came up with and it was pretty DANG good!
1 pound pasta (I love Rotelle pasta mac and cheese!)
1 stick butter
1/2 cup flour
1 quart whole milk
2 teaspoons of dry mustard (or a little less if you don't like too much flavor)
1/2 teapsoon of season salt
1/2 teaspoon Frank's Red Hot Sauce
fresh ground pepper
1 egg, beaten
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated (grate it yourself, please)
2 cups gruyere cheese (save some $$ and buy a block at sam's club and use half and freeze half for later, you won't regret the gruyere!)
2-3 slices torn sourdough bread
4 tablespoons butter, melted
grated parmesan cheese
Boil 4 qts of water in a pot. Add pasta, some salt and cook al'dente. (about 10-12 minutes, depending on the type). Drain and set aside.
In a large dutch oven over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour and contiune cooking, whisking constantly for about 5 minutes. Gradually whisk in 1 quart of milk. Continue cooking over medium heat, whisking constantly for several minutes until thickened (takes me about 6-8 minutes). In a small bowl, lightly beat an egg, whisk in 1/2 cup of the hot milk sauce mixture so the egg is tempered. Add the egg mixture to the dutch oven, continuing to whisk constantly.
When that is mixed in, add the dry mustard, seasoned salt, fresh ground pepper and Frank's Red Hot; mix thoroughly. Begin adding the cheese by handfuls until all cheese is incorporated. Taste and season accordingly, I add some kosher salt at this point.
Stir in the cooked noodles. It will be very saucy, but that's great!
Pour the noodle mixture into a 9x13 pan sprayed with cooking spray.
In a food processor, pulse the sourdough bread until it is coarsely crumbed. While pulsing a few more times, pour the melted butter in through the feed tube. Toss with about 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese. Evenly distribute the crumbs over the top of the mac and cheese.
Bake for 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven.