This is an altered Williams-Sonoma recipe. I’m a mac n cheese purist myself, so I typically don’t add all (or any) of the alternate ingredients however the bacon (or ham and veggies) kicks this recipe to a new level. Give it a try for a quick week night meal.
- 2 sticks butter
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 lb. elbow macaroni
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups whole milk, warmed (you can substitute half and half here if you really wanna pack on the dairy fat and bump up the creaminess).
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (or more if you love cheese!)
- 2 cups shredded fontina cheese (or more if you love cheese!)
- 1/2 tsp. dry mustard (you can omit if you prefer your cheese mustard free)
In a large frying pan, melt 4 Tbs. of the butter over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until tender but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add the bread crumbs and stir until coated with butter. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a shallow 3-quart baking dish with cooking spray.
Cook macaroni according to the package directions until not quite al dente. (The macaroni will cook again in the oven, so do not overcook it now.) Drain well and set aside.
Add the remaining 4 Tbs. butter to the pot used for the pasta and melt over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let bubble for 1 minute without browning. Gradually whisk in the milk, raise the heat to medium and bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheeses along with the mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the pasta. Spread in the prepared baking dish and sprinkle evenly with the buttered crumbs.
Bake until the crumbs are browned and the sauce is bubbling, about 20 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes, then serve hot. Serves 6.
Variation: You can use any tubular pasta: try penne, ziti, or mostaccioli. To bring your mac and cheese to true “meal” status, add chopped crisp bacon, cubes of smoked ham or cooked chicken, cooked peas, chopped blanched broccoli, sautéed mushrooms. (I say “true meal status” because adding meat and veggies to your mac you hit more of the food pyramid!). You can also add any variety of frozen vegetables (thawed first of course).