Lots of macaroni and cheese recipes claim to be the best. This one actually is.
- 8 tbsps (1 stick) salted butter, plus more for dish
- 6 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4 to 1/2-inch pieces
- 5 1/2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
- 4–1/2 cups (18 oz) sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 2 cups (8 oz) Gruyere cheese, grated
- 1-lb cavatappi or elbow macaroni
- Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside.
- Place bread in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour butter into the bowl with bread, and toss. Set bread crumbs aside.
- In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, whisking, 1 minute. While whisking, slowly pour in hot milk. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick. Remove pan from heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar cheese, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyere; set cheese sauce aside.
- Fill a large saucepan with water; bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 minutes less than manufacturer’s directions, until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone. (Different brands of macaroni cook at different rates; be sure to read the instructions.) Transfer macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well.
- Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce. Pour mixture into prepared dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup Gruyere, and bread crumbs over top.
- Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool 5 minutes; serve hot.