There are probably a dozen variations of macaroni and cheese and I think I’ve had them all: classic, southern style, gourmet, and the day-glo orange stuff that comes in a box. My own version had been hit or miss in the past but, this year, I finally got it just the way I like it. Gotta pause here to give a shout-out to my son-in-law who taught me the proper way to make a roux! Here’s a tip: Slow and steady definitely wins the race. Traditional mac and cheese is made with cheddar only but this one also contains Gouda because that’s a personal favorite. Go traditional or use a mixture as long as you buy it in a block and shred it yourself. Pre-shredded cheese contains stabilizers to prevent it from sticking together, so it doesn’t melt well. — L. Weal
1 cup (NOT 8 ounces of pasta by weight) uncooked elbow macaroni or cavatappi pasta
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 cup milk
2 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
2 ounces gouda cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons seasoned bread crumbs
ground black pepper
large (5-quart) pot
small (1-quart) pot
measuring cups and spoons
two 8-ounce ramekins
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Cook pasta in large pot according to package directions until al dente. Drain, then return to large pot.
3. Melt butter in small pot over low heat.
4. Whisk in flour and stir continually until mixture thickens — about 45 seconds.
5. Slowly pour in milk and continue whisking until mixture thickens again — about 5 minutes.
6. Remove from heat, add both cheeses, and continue to stir until cheeses melt.
7. Add cheese sauce to pasta, then season with salt and pepper. Stir until pasta is coated thoroughly. If sauce is too thick, add a little milk to thin it out.
8. Divide pasta evenly between ramekins. Sprinkle bread crumbs evenly over top of each.
9. Bake until bread crumbs are golden brown — about 18 minutes.