Credit: Allen J. Schaben, Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles Times promises that of the 600 recipes it tests each year, only 400 make it to print. Supposedly, you can be confident that their recipes will turn out right the first time (even serve them untested to company!), because the editors have already culled through the losers for you.
I’m placing my blind faith in this promise by reprinting this recipe by Betty Hallock, which accompanied her story, “When Bad Mac Happens to Good People.” She explains that cooking the bechamel for 30 min. deepens the flavor and really emulsifies the cheese sauce.I’ve never made it with mustard or bay leaf, but then, I was raised in the great Velveeta tradition. How about you? What’s your favorite mac ‘n cheese recipe?
“Note: Use large shells such as chiocciole or conchiglie, or large elbow macaroni.
-1/2 c. panko bread crumbs
-1 tsp. melted butter
-1/2 c. (1 stick) butter
-1/2 c. flour
-5 c. milk
-1/2 tsp. dry mustard
-1/4 tsp. white pepper
-1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
-1/8 tsp. nutmeg
-1 tsp. salt
-1 bay leaf
-4 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese, divided
-3 cups shredded Swiss Gruyere cheese
-1 pound shells or elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions in salted water
-1/2 cup heavy cream
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the panko bread crumbs with the melted butter on a small baking pan. Toast the bread crumbs until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
2. In a large saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat until melted, then stir in the flour. Heat and stir until the mixture is smooth and bubbling, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the milk. Add the dry mustard, white and cayenne pepper, nutmeg, salt and bay leaf. Heat and stir to boiling, then reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the bay leaf.
3. Stir in 3 cups of the cheddar and all the Gruyere until melted. Pour the sauce over the cooked macaroni in a large bowl, stirring until all of the macaroni is coated. Pour the macaroni into a well-buttered 9-by-13-inch casserole. Drizzle heavy cream around the edges of the casserole. Sprinkle on it the remaining 1 cup cheddar cheese, then the toasted bread crumbs.
4. Cover the casserole with aluminum foil. Bake 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake uncovered an additional 10 minutes. Put under a preheated broiler for 5 minutes.
Nutritional info: each of 16 servings: 415 calories; 19 grams protein; 28 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 25 grams fat; 15 grams saturated fat; 75 mg. cholesterol; 565 mg. sodium.”