Recipe is meat- and egg-free. Easily gluten-free by substituting gluten-free macaroni. Inspired by Fine Cooking Feb/Mar 2008.
Classic Baked Macaroni & Cheese
6 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
6 Tbs. all-purpose four
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1 quart whole milk
1 large sprig fresh thyme, plus 1 tsp. chopped thyme
1 bay leaf
3 packed cups (12 oz.) cheese – I used about 1/3 sharp cheddar, 1/3 manchego and 1/3 gruyere
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce or substitute
1/2 tsp. hot sauce
1 lb. elbow macaroni or other small pasta, such as chiocciole
4 Tbs. olive oil, more for the baking dish
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs – I blended stale loaf-ends
1/2 cup grated parmesan or parmigiano-reggiano
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400˚ and put a large pot of salted water on to boil. In a heavy-duty pot or pan, melt the butter over medium heat, then add the onions and season with salt and pepper. Stir with a wooden spoon. Once the onions are softened (about 8 mins), stir in the flour and cook for a few more minutes. Add the mustard. Using a whisk gradually add the milk, whisking constantly.
When all the milk is added, use a wooden spoon again and add the thyme sprig, bay leaf, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Let simmer for 15 minutes to meld the flavors. Then discard the thyme and bay leaf and add the cheese! Stir until melted, then add the Worcestershire and hot sauces. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cook the pasta al dente (not fully soft), then drain. Combine the pasta and cheese sauce and stir until pasta is fully coated. Lightly oil a 9×13” baking dish and spread the pasta in the dish. In a medium bowl, toss the breadcrumbs, parmesan, olive oil, chopped thyme, and salt and pepper. Cover the top of the macaroni with the breadcrumb mixture. Bake until the crumb topping is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let sit 5-10 minutes before serving… and enjoy!
Eva works at MOM’s Central Office