Macaroni and Cheese

Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

Makes one 9”x13” dish


  • 8 tbs butter
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 6 tbs all purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 c whole milk (we almost never go to the trouble to get whole milk though and 2% works fine)
  • 1 3/4 c chicken broth
  • 4 c colby, shredded
  • 2 c sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 2 tbs hot sauce (more if you like it spicy)
  • ~2 tsp salt
  • pepper
  • 2 c bread crumbs (2 slices of white sandwich bread run through a food processor)
  • 4 tbs shredded parmesan
  • xx oz ham cubes, optional
  • 1 lb macaroni pasta, cooked until it's a minute or two under done and drained (it cooks that last little bit in the oven)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Melt 6 tbs butter in a large (at least 3 qts) sauce pan on medium heat.

Stir in garlic, mustard and cayenne and saute for about 30 seconds.

Whisk in the flour and cook for about 2 minutes. You want to cook out the raw flour flavor, but not burn the butter.

Slowly whisk in the milk and broth, scraping the bottom of the pan to incorporate all of the flour into the sauce. Bring to a simmer cook about 6 minutes or until thickened, whisking often. I usually find that it takes for fucking ever to bring all that liquid to a simmer, but that it thickens up pretty quickly after that.

Add the hot sauce.

Slowly whisk in all that cheese until it's all melted in.

Season sauce with salt and pepper.

Spread the pasta out in a 9"x13" baking dish. Add the ham if you're using it. Pour in the sauce and smooth it out with the back of a spoon. Yeah, it's a *lot* of sauce and you don't have to add it all, but we've always gone ahead and added the whole thing even though the pasta looked like it was drowning. It does dry out a bit while it's cooking anyway. If you are making mac and cheese ahead of time, stop at this step and it'll keep covered in the fridge for a few days.

Melt remaining 2 tbs of butter and toss it with the bread crumbs and parm. Spread the mixture over the top of the pasta.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

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