The No. 8 skillet is the perfect size for a side dish for four, or an entrée for two. This macaroni and cheese is all about texture. The silky sauce, extra-creamy thanks to a quick pass through the blender, is encased in a crunchy, golden brown crust of seasoned breadcrumbs. Take it directly from the oven to the table and watch it disappear.
Mac and Cheese is a comfort food classic for a reason. It makes people of all ages happy. There are simple versions and fancy versions. We’ve tried a lot of them. For our money this skillet Mac and Cheese recipe hits the sweet spot between achievable and aspirational. It’s sophisticated enough to appeal to a demanding palate, yet approachable enough that kids will love it. Silky on one hand, rugged on the other. A little like us.
what you need
8 oz dry pasta noodles, such as macaroni or shells
1 thick slice sourdough bread, crust removed
1 large clove garlic, peeled and cut in half
1 teaspoon chopped thyme leaves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons room-temperature butter, divided
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
Coarse kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
1 ½ cups (6 oz) grated sharp white cheddar, divided
1 ½ cups (6 oz) grated gruyere, divided
¾ cup (¾ oz) grated parmesan, divided
servings: 4download recipe
Preheat oven to 450˚F. Line a sheet pan with foil and set aside.
Cook the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and stir a few times to make sure it doesn’t stick to the pot. Cook just until al dente, about 5-7 minutes depending on the type of pasta. Drain and set aside.
Make the breadcrumbs: Cut bread into large pieces and add to the bowl of a food processor. Add garlic and pulse until finely chopped and garlic is scattered throughout, about 30 seconds. Stir in thyme, ¼ cup of the parmesan, and moisten with olive oil. Set aside.
Make the sauce: Gently warm milk in a small pot on the stove or in microwave. In a large heavy-bottomed pot, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add flour and stir until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Slowly whisk in warmed milk, stirring well to avoid clumps. Season with salt and cayenne and bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Remove pot from heat and immediately stir in 1 cup of the cheddar, 1 cup of the gruyere, and remaining ½ cup parmesan. Stir until melted, then taste and season again with salt and black pepper.
Optional: To achieve an incredibly silky, creamy texture, purée sauce using an immersion blender or transfer to a blender for about one minute. Toss in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter while you purée the sauce.
Combine and bake: In a large bowl or in the same pot, combine noodles and cheese sauce. Fold in remaining ½ cup cheddar and ½ cup gruyere. Using a ladle or cup measure, transfer noodles and sauce to your 8-inch iron skillet (it will hold about 4 heaping cups and look very saucy). Top with seasoned breadcrumbs. Place skillet on the prepared sheet pan and bake until sauce is bubbling and breadcrumbs are golden brown, about 8-10 minutes.
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Smithey Ironware Company, LLC
1175 Machinist St 43A
Charleston, SC 29412