well this week has been busy and i've been visited by springtime allergies so i'm moving at a pretty slow pace. i do not think it is very nice of mother nature to subject me to allergies at the same time it is snowing. that is just plain mean.
but something tasty to distract me from my miserable week...
Creamy Baked Macaroni and Cheese
1/2 cup unsalted butter, plus more for greasing baking dish
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
5 cups grated sharp (old) cheddar (grated from a block of cheese, not pre-grated)
1/2 cup or so grated pecorino Romano or Parmesan
1 pound elbow macaroni
1/2 cup grated cheddar
15 saltine crackers
2 Tbsp. butter
Heat oven to 375° F. Butter a 3 quart shallow, rectangular baking dish and set aside.
Crumble saltine crackers into a small bowl (they shouldn't be crumbled to a powder but a rough crumble like you would when crumbling into soup, for example). Melt 2 Tbsp. butter, pour over crackers and toss to combine. Set aside.
Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Measure out the milk and heat in microwave or additional saucepan until hot. (I like to microwave in a large glass measuring cup).
Melt 1/2 cup butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute. Slowly pour hot milk into flour-butter mixture while whisking. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture is warmed and slightly thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 5 cups cheddar, and the pecorino Romano or Parmesan. Set cheese sauce aside.
Add macaroni to boiling water and cook only until the outside of the pasta is cooked but the inside is underdone. (Taste test often!). Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Pour macaroni into the greased baking dish. Pour reserved cheese sauce over macaroni.
Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheddar cheese and top with buttered, crumbled saltine crackers. Bake another 15 minutes until bubbly around the edges and the crackers are starting to turn golden. Remove from oven to a cooling rack. Let stand 5 minutes. Serve.