OK, Andrea (and the other countless friends who have declared this the best macaroni and cheese ever), here is the answer to your request. The only way it could be better is if it didn't have any calories. The recipe based on one from Comfort Foods, a book that I loved writing. If you are wondering what the chunky brown thing is in the photo, it is a sauteed mushroom--a good addition to the dish if you happen to have them around.
Rick's Macaroni and Cheese
Makes 6 servings
It’s difficult to choose the best part of macaroni and cheese--the tender pasta with its chewy ends, the crusty topping, or the creamy sauce with its Cheddar-y tang? This version has it all, including a bit of extra zip from dry mustard.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 1/2 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs (prepared from crusty bread in a food processor)
1 pound elbow macaroni
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for the dish
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk, heated
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Muenster or Fontina cheese
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. To make the crumbs, melt the butter with the garlic in a large skillet over medium-low heat until the garlic is tender but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add the crumbs and stir until they are well-coated with the butter mixture. Set aside.
2. Meanwhile, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter a
3-quart shallow baking dish.
3. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the macaroni and cook according to the package directions until al dente. (Remember that the macaroni will be cooked again during baking, so do not overcook.) Drain well.
4. Add the butter to the pot and melt over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, reduce the heat to low, and let bubble without browning for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk. Return the heat to medium and cook, whisking often, until the sauce comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the Cheddar and Muenster, along with the mustard, and season with the salt and pepper. Spread in the casserole and sprinkle with the crumbs.
5. Bake until the crumbs are browned and the sauce is bubbling, about 20 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes, then serve hot.
Any tubular pasta will do--try penne, ziti, or mostaccoli. Add cubes of smoked ham or cooked chicken, crisp chopped bacon, or cooked peas, broccoli, or mushrooms.