Baked Macaroni and Cheese

You may recall that I made macaroni and cheese last fall for John’s birthday supper, but it had hot dogs in it (making it technically “Mac & Dogs”…and also “no, thank you”) and I didn’t take any photos of the finished result.

I recently made it again (this time sans dogs) and used a few new cheeses.  The result was just what I like in a macaroni and cheese…elbow noodles, tons of cheese, and a crunchy topping in the form of buttery, torn bread.

For my cheddar cheeses this time around, I used a combination of Kerrygold Reserve Cheddar and Trader Joe’s English Cheddar with Caramelized Onion.  The former is perfectly sharp and the latter is like butter, so naturally, they made for great additions to the always stellar gruyère.

I have been experimenting more with night-time flash-free photos, since that is when I do a lot of my cooking.  These are examples.  They don’t look great, but I think we can all agree nothing is worse than a full flash.

I need to take a photography class.  I also need to stop saying this and actually do it. 

Regardless of the photos, this macaroni and cheese recipe (never, ever call it “mac and cheese” in my presence) is well worth repeating. 

Would you like to see how it looks with hot dogs?  Would you like to learn more about the origins of macaroni and cheese in America, and how Thomas Jefferson is involved?  Check out my original post on the subject. 

There will be a quiz.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Adapted from Martha Stewart

6 slices white bread, torn into small pieces
8 Tbsps. (1 stick) unsalted butter
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsps. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated gruyère
1 pound elbow macaroni

  • Preheat the oven to 375.  Butter a 3-quart casserole dish and set aside.
  • Place torn bread pieces in a medium bowl.  In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter.  Pour butter into the bowl with bread, and toss.  Set the breadcrumbs aside.
  • In a medium saucepan, warm the milk over medium heat.  Do not let it boil. 
  • While the milk is warming, place the remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat.  When butter bubbles, add flour.  Whisk butter and flour together for 1 minute.
  • Slowly pour hot milk into butter-flour mixture.  Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.
  • Remove the pan from the heat.  Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar, and 1 1/2 cups gruyère.  Set cheese sauce aside.
  • Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil.  When water is boiling add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 fewer minutes than manufacturer’s directions.  Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well.
  • Stir macaroni into the cheese sauce.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish.  Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar and 1/2 cup gruyère; scatter breadcrumbs over the top.
  • Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes.  Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes.
  • Try not to eat the whole thing.

Printable Version

18 thoughts on “Baked Macaroni and Cheese

  1. Megan says:

    I really like your torn bread topping. I throw panko on top of my baked macaroni and cheese sometimes, but I think I would like bread cubes much better.

    • Aimee says:

      I grew up on Ritz cracker crumbs, and I love Panko’s crunch…but the bread has become my favorite!

      Plus, it’s fun to rip them. 🙂

  2. kate says:

    The other day I saw a Kerrygold recipe that called for a shot of Guinness in the Macaroni and Cheese. So maybe I’ll add that adaptation to your recipe and give it a whirl next time I need major comfort food 🙂

  3. k8 says:

    This looks so warm and lovely and gooey. And I know Alex would love.
    Also, I like the look of these night time, flash-free photos. I’d risk a blurry pic any day over the blown-out look of a flash image.

  4. Aimee says:

    Thanks, everyone! I hope you don’t mind that I left out the hot dogs.

    My friend Marie just gave me some tips on the photos – I have another little milk-glass crock of this in the fridge ($2 each thrift finds, Amber!) that I might heat up tonight and see if I can do a little better.

    Kate, I might have to also try out adding the shot of Guinness. Maybe for St. Patrick’s Day!

  5. Fran says:

    Love the torn bread topping. There’s nothing like the crunch of something on top. I like it when the macaroni gets a little crunchy too. So good. The photos look great too!

  6. Fatima says:

    Aimee–thank you, thank you, thank you! I was watching an episode of “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” two nights ago and someone was making Macaroni and Cheese and I just started drooling and felt the need for it. I was going to look for a great recipe that could satisfy my craving but now I have one thanks to you! THIS is an excellent recipe that I will try and make this weekend!

    Also, do you have any recipes that would call for jarlsberg cheese??

    • Aimee says:

      Hi Fatima! Once you get the urge to have macaroni and cheese it’s pretty much impossible to tune it out – haha. I think you will be pleased with this recipe! John and I ate every last bite over the past few days!

      The question of cheeses to use is widely debated. You can pretty much use anything, and it’s fun to switch it up and try new combinations. I personally love the cheddar/gruyere combo, but a lot of people add parmesan or monterey jack…or go the whole other route and use processed cheeses like Velveeta for their ultra creamy results.

      I haven’t seen any recipes that call for a whole lot of Jarlsberg. I wouldn’t say not to use it, but maybe make it a smaller ratio than the other cheeses…and see how you like it!

      Now that I am thinking about it, I would love for my next batch to have some spicy kick to it. Maybe using some Pepperjack cheese and some Cabot Chipotle Cheddar. YUM! 🙂

  7. Sarah says:

    I just made macaroni for 50. Whew, I’m tired.

    Your version looks good–I especially like the bigger chunks of buttery bread, I’ll give that a whirl next time.

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