Mmmmmac and Cheese

It's been oddly cool in Vancouver for the past few days, so I don't feel that mac and cheese is quite so out of place during a season typically filled with light, fresh, zesty summer fare. In all its ooey, gooey glory, this pan of comfort is enjoyed by my family year round (and is one of my grandmother's favourites!) I wasn't one of those kids that had ketchup with their Kraft Dinner, but I put thinly sliced tomatoes on top for a little freshness to cut the richness. I put panko on everything these days and here it works well for a some crunch on top of the pasta.
I used cavatappi (which was labelled "scoobi doos" on the package. I have no idea why.) I'd recommend sticking to old school elbows though, since the cavatappi tends to be a little too thick and chewy for the cheesy sauce.

Macaroni and Cheese 

  • 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 cup panko bread crumb
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
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 panko and parmesan 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.
Recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa Family Style
Image property of beets and bites

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