Comfort Food Classic: Mac & Cheese

I had never made homemade macaroni and cheese until last night.  For my first attempt, I turned to my go-to gal Ina Garten.  Her recipes have never led me wrong and are always delicious.  This mac and cheese recipe is no exception.  It turned out perfectly — so creamy and delicious.

I made a couple of minor changes — I used the 4 cups of gruyere as suggested but instead of 2 cups of extra sharp cheddar, I used 1 cup of extra sharp cheddar and 1 cup of sharp cheddar.  Instead of fresh breadcrumbs, I used panko.  You probably only need 3/4 cup of panko — not 1.5 cups.  I also mixed some grated parmesan into the panko.  I enjoyed the crunch of the breadcrumbs and the flavor they imparted to the tomatoes on top of the dish.  Lastly, I used small shells instead of elbows or cavatappi because I had a full box in the cabinet and they are roughly the same size as elbows.

I served the mac and cheese with a simple green salad.  Overall, this was comfort food at its best!  Tim and I can’t wait to have the leftovers!

Mac and Cheese
Barefoot Contessa

  • Kosher salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi
  • 1 quart milk
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 12 ounces Gruyere, grated (4 cups)
  • 8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 pound fresh tomatoes (4 small)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large (4-quart) pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish.

Slice the tomatoes and arrange on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

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