Baked macaroni and cheese has long reigned as the quintessential comfort food. It’s the perfect dish for a family dinner or potluck picnic, and will bring a smile to any face after a long day.
This baked macaroni and cheddar recipe uses award-winning Cabot cheddar cheese and a crunchy breadcrumb topping for a richer, more satisfying flavor than you would get from a name-brand boxed package. With just a hint of zingy spice, this mouthwatering dish will have everyone in the family asking for a second helping.
Baked macaroni and cheddar casserole recipe
Butter or nonstick cooking spray
2 1/4 cups uncooked small elbow macaroni
3 cups milk*
5 tablespoons Cabot Salted Butter
3 slices firm white or whole wheat bread, pulsed into crumbs in processor or blender
3 tablespoons King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Several dashes Tabasco Sauce
16 ounces (1 pound) Cabot Sharp Cheddar, Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar or Cabot Smoky Bacon Cheddar, grated* (about 4 cups), divided
Preheat oven to 375 F Butter 9-by-13-inch or other shallow baking dish or coat with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
Stir macaroni into large pot of boiling salted water; cook for 5 minutes after water returns to boil, or until outside is cooked but center is still firm. Immediately drain in colander and rinse under cold water; set aside.
In saucepan over medium-high heat or in microwave on high power for 20 second intervals, heat milk to just below simmer.
In pot you used for pasta, melt butter over medium-low heat. Pour 2 tablespoons of butter into bowl, add breadcrumbs and blend together thoroughly; set aside.
Reduce heat to low, add flour to butter remaining in saucepan and whisk over heat for 2 minutes, being careful not to let it color. Add milk in small amounts at first, whisking until smooth after each addition; continue stirring until sauce thickens and comes to simmer. Cook, stirring often, for about 3 minutes.
Remove from heat and whisk in salt, pepper, nutmeg, Tabasco and half of cheese. Stir in drained pasta.
Spread one-third of pasta mixture over bottom of prepared baking dish. Scatter one-third of remaining cheese on top. Spoon another one-third of pasta on top and add another one-third of cheese. Top with remaining pasta. Mix remaining cheese into breadcrumbs and scatter evenly over top.
Bake uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden on top and bubbling throughout. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.