This is one of the first recipes I made, many years ago when I was first trying to learn how to cook, and it has stuck with me because it is delicious. How can you turn away a recipe that requires one and a half pounds of cheese, and in addition announces the presence of “buttery crumbs” in the title?
I have made this many times, but usually for special occasions because it does take a while to make. You have to start it between 1-1/2 to 2 hours before you want to eat it, although the recipe does have a make ahead option, below. But it makes a lot, usually around 8 servings for us, so there are plenty of leftovers for the rest of the week. I like mine with hot sauce.
Macaroni and Cheese with Buttery Crumbs
Adapted from Food and Wine
5 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 1/2 c half-and-half or whole milk
1 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 pound Colby cheese, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
1 pound rotini
3/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs (I usually use seasoned)
Preheat the oven to 350°. Generously spray or butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish.
Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large saucepan. Add the flour and cook over moderate heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the half-and-half and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly until thickened, about 3 minutes. Add one-half of the Cheddar and Colby cheeses and cook over low heat, stirring, until melted. Stir in the mustard, nutmeg and cayenne; season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain very well. Return the pasta to the pot. Add the cheese sauce and the remaining cheese and stir until combined. Spread the pasta in the prepared baking dish.
In a small glass bowl, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the microwave. Add the bread crumbs and stir until evenly moistened. Sprinkle the buttered crumbs over the macaroni and bake for 45 minutes, or until bubbling and golden on top. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.
The assembled dish can be refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature and bake.