I have a confession. I pretty much refused to eat mac and cheese until I got to college. Yes, I was such a picky eater when I was young that I refused to eat what was a staple to most kids. And when I say mac and cheese, I refer to the stuff that comes out of a box labeled Kraft.
My love of cheese took me beyond the box of Kraft, though Kraft still has its place every now and then. This particular Barefoot Contessa recipe is excellent, though you may want to ignore the “serves 2″ part of the recipe, or you will likely be clutching your stomach in pain after dinner. However, for presentation purposes, I do still love to make it in the individual gratin dishes.
The blue cheese really makes this dish pop. If you don’t like blue cheese, you could always use something else, but it will be a pity to miss those little bursts of flavor.
Macaroni and Cheese
adapted from Barefoot Contessa
2 cups elbow macaroni or cavatappi
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
3 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
2 ounces blue cheese, such as Roquefort, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Panko bread crumbs
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.
Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, blue cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into 2 individual size gratin dishes. (At this point, you can refrigerate and bake at a later time.)
Sprinkle panko and thyme over the top of the pasta. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes at 400*F, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.