This week I made Martha’s Perfect Mac and Cheese to test out its “perfectness” and see if it passed the rich and creamy test. I am happy to say that it did! It did not get dry and hard. In fact, the leftovers were just as delicious if not more so! Martha, you have totally and completely impressed me, as usual.
This recipe begins with a small mountain of cheese: old cheddar and Gruyere. This is probably the most labour intensive part of this recipe, in other words, physically it was quite easy to prepare. I also heated some water in a large Dutch oven right away so the water would be ready to make the macaroni when it was time.
This is where I started to officially screw up. I was so intent on taking photos that I forgot to slowly whisk in the milk. Next thing I knew I had dumped it all in and the mixture was super thin. I did not panic though. I knew from making Baked Potato Soup that if I stayed there and stirred and stirred it would finally thicken which it did. Thank goodness!
Then I added all the cheese and realized I should have saved some for the top. Sigh. OK, so it was going to be extra cheesy! I added the seasoning (salt, pepper, nutmeg and some cayenne) and stirred. I cooked the pasta in salted water which the recipe did not say to do but I did so out of habit. This almost made the dish too salty so do not add salt to the water! Then you rinse the almost-cooked pasta with cold water which dumbfounded me at first. Then I realized this would prevent the starch in the pasta from sucking all the sauce, genius!
You add the pasta to the cheese sauce, put into a large casserole dish (wow, I divided this recipe in half and it still made a ton) and cover with cheese and homemade buttered croutons. I used some leftover Sour Cream White Bread I had made and it turned out perfectly! Bake at 375F for half an hour:
The croutons browned beautifully! The mac and cheese stayed super cheesy and my husband is a total convert. He asked me how he was ever going to eat Kraft Dinner (boxed mac & cheese) again? Truly, there is no comparison.
I told him not to get used to it, that this was an artery-hardening dinner. A special treat that we will only eat now and then. Definitely not a meal I would make on a weekly basis but when in need of comfort food this is the recipe I will turn to.
My husband loved it so much that he asked if there were leftovers after the first bite! I told him that the dinner might be more filling that he realized and he looked at me with confidence that there would not be a single noodle left by the end of the night. Sure enough, when he was done his plate he could eat no more. That was probably a combination of all the heavy calories in there but also because I used Catelli Smart Pasta which if full of fiber but tastes like white pasta. It is a good thing because this meal should be eaten in small doses.
It amazed me that even after nuking it for lunch the next day it was still moist and delicious. And even though I screwed up while cooking it, it was still absolutely fantastic. Martha, you are right. This is the Perfect Mac and Cheese. How could I have ever doubted you? What a treat, I am happy to give this recipe five out of five wooden spoons.