amazing mac and cheese

June 30, 2012 § 6 Comments

At our birthday luau this past weekend, I served one of my girls’ favorite recipes: macaroni and cheese from the wonderful Williams-Sonoma’s “familymeals” cookbook by Maria Helm Sinskey. A little more involved than some recipes, this takes a bit of time but is totally worth the effort. I was thinking I’d made way too much since I’d more than doubled the recipe. But being able to send extras home with friends and still have more for us made me happy. “Is it bad?” my friend Erin asked the next day, “that I had your leftover mac and cheese for breakfast this morning.” We both decided it wasn’t as we heated up more for lunch. Make this unbelievably good mac and cheese for your next gathering and share the love.

Truly Amazing Mac and Cheese

from Williams Sonoma’s “familymeals”

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose (plain) flour
3 cups whole milk
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 bay leaf
pinch of grated nutmeg
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 pound macaroni noodles
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups mixed grated hard cheeses such as Cheddar, Gruyere and Parmesan
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10-inch square or similar baking dish or 4-6 individual baking dishes.

To make the sauce, in a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, until the mixture forms a ball, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and whisk in the milk, 1 cup at a time, mixing after each addition until smooth. Return the pan to medium heat and whisk until the mixture comes to a boil. Add the onion, bay leaf, and nutmeg, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl and cover to keep warm. You should have about 2 1/2 cups.

Bring a large post three-fourths full of salted water to a boil, add the pasta, and cook until al dente, according to package directions. Drain, transfer to a bowl, and stir in the butter. Add the sauce, 1 cup of the cheese, and the cream, and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour the pasta into the prepared dish and sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup cheese over the top. Bake until golden and bubbling, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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