Winter comfort food at its best… do I need to say more? This David Lebovitz version spices up things with a dash of tangy mustard over all that gooey cheese sauce and layers of al dente elbow macaroni. You can hide a few veggies like carrots, broccoli or cauliflower heads and throw in some of yesterday’s grilled chicken or smoked marlin to clear up leftovers in the fridge. Dinner is ready, folks!

MACARONI AND CHEESE

Ingredients:

For the Pasta & Cheese Sauce

3/4-pound (340g) uncooked pasta

5 tablespoons (70g) unsalted butter

6 tablespoons (60g) all-purpose flour

4 cups (1l) whole milk, warm

1 pound (450g, about 6 cups) grated cheese

1/2 cup (45g) grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon dry mustard powder

1 -2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme

1/4 teaspoon cayenne or red pepper powder

For the Pasta Topping

1 1/2 cups (190g) breadcrumbs

4 tablespoons (60g) melted butter, unsalted

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Method:

  • Butter a wide 2 1/2 to 3-quart (3 L) baking dish. Cook the pasta in a large pot of lightly salted water.
  • Cook until tender and drain well. When cool, spread the pasta in baking dish. Preheat oven to 350ºF.

  • Wipe the pasta pot dry and melt the 5 tablespoons (70g) butter in it over medium heat. Add the flour.
  • Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Dribble in some of the warm milk, stirring continuously.

  • You can use a whisk to help break up lumps or use a spatula, stirring briskly. Continue to add the milk.
  • Add a small amount at a time while stirring, until all the milk is added. Cook till it comes to a low boil.

  • Stir constantly, then cook the mixture for 3 minutes, until it thickens. Remove the mixture from heat.
  • Add the grated cheese, Parmesan, mustard, thyme, and cayenne, then pour the mixture over the pasta.

  • The mustard gives a bit of depth to the sauce and the fresh thyme adds an overall pleasant herbal note.
  • Stir to combine and make sure it is in an even layer in the dish. Meanwhile make the topping mixture.

  • Mix together the breadcrumbs, melted butter and chopped parsley, then strew the crumbs over the top.
  • Bake the macaroni and cheese for 25 minutes, or until the topping is nicely browned. About 8 servings.

Mac & Cheese