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By the Book: Martha Stewart’s Macaroni and Cheese

September 18th 12:09pm, 2012

Whenever I’m in doubt on where to find a classic recipe, be it pancakes, biscuits or mac and cheese, I turn to one of Martha Stewart’s cookbooks (or her huge recipe database online). Her new book, Martha’s American Food: A Celebration of Our Nation’s Most Treasured Dishes, From Coast to Coast, is a collection of her greatest American hits, if you will. All that means to me is that they’ve been tested to death, making them reliable sources to turn to time and time again.

The book provides dishes that are from different parts of the country ranging from the Northeast to the Southwest. Most recipes include a backstory about the dish, the history of the dish, as well tips and tricks on making it right. With each passing day, the evenings are getting cooler and cooler and the only reason I’m OK with this change is because of the warming, rich dishes of fall.



So, I chose to make Martha’s macaroni and cheese, which is easily the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had. No joke. I first heard of this recipe when I was reading Deb Perelman’s blog, SmittenKitchen.com, about how much she loved it. When I saw the same recipe in this book, I just had to make it.




It takes a lot of cheese to make this dish – almost two pounds a lot. But I think that’s what makes it so good. It also calls for bold cheeses. Unlike the mellow-yellow cheddar you normally see in mac and cheese recipes, Stewart uses sharp white cheddar and a pungent Gruyere and then folds them both into a velvety béchamel sauce.



Creamy sauces are almost never good when you reheat them because the sauce always separates but not here. This reheats so well the next day and the day after that; the sauce simply reverts back to its original state: creamy, gooey heaven. This recipe is solid without hiccups. It may quickly become your favorite mac and cheese recipe, too.




Macaroni and Cheese
10 to 12 Servings

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, separated, plus more, softened, for baking dish
6 slices good-quality white bread, trimmed of crusts and torn into ¼- to ½-inch pieces
5½ cups milk (Note: I used whole milk.)
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp. coarse salt
¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper
¼ tsp. cayenne, or to taste
4½ cups grated sharp white cheddar (about 1¼ pounds), separated
2 cups grated Gruyere (about 8 ounces), separated
1 lb. elbow macaroni

• Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish.
• Place the bread in a medium bowl. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat; pour into the bowl with the bread and toss to coat.
• Heat the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
• Melt the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add flour to make a roux, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute (do not let get brown). While whisking, gradually pour in the hot milk. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and thickens. Remove the pan from heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, pepper, cayenne, 3 cups of cheddar and 1½ cups Gruyere.
• Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes less than the manufacturer’s directions. (Note: I cooked it for just 3 minutes.) Drain the macaroni, rinse under cold running water, and drain again. Stir the macaroni into the cheese sauce.
• Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1½ cups of cheddar and ½ cup of Gruyere, then top with the bread pieces. Bake until heated through and the topping is browned, about 30 minutes.
• Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Reprinted from Martha’s American Food: A Celebration of Our Nation’s Most Treasured Dishes, From Coast to Coast, by Martha Stewart. Copyright (c) 2012. Photos copyright. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, a division of Random House, Inc.

What are your fondest mac and cheese memories? Tell us in the comments section below for a chance to win a copy of Martha’s American Food by Martha Stewart. We’ll announce the winner in next week’s By the Book column.

And now, we’d like to congratulate Courtney, whose comment on last week’s By the Book has won her a copy of The Meat Free Monday Cookbook. Courtney, keep an eye out for an email from the Sauce crew.

By Meera Nagarajan

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5 Responses to “By the Book: Martha Stewart’s Macaroni and Cheese”

  1. Stephanie Says:
    September 18th, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    I hated mac & cheese when I was a kid, so i don’t really have many good memories of it. Of course, what I knew as mac & cheese was from the blue box. Now I enjoy homemade mac & cheese as long as it isn’t the bland variety… it has to have a bit of mustard powder or bold cheeses, like this one.

  2. Mindy Says:
    September 18th, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    When I was young, there wasn’t much I would not eat. Not a picky eater, but none of the foods on the plate could touch each other! Then one day, the peas and the mac & cheese overlapped and my affliction was cured! Can’t wait to try this recipe… maybe with some peas…

  3. Falishia Harrold Says:
    September 18th, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Making macaroni-n-cheese with my Great-Grandmother. She’s 101 now, and no longer cooks. But I will always treasure cooking with her.

  4. Angie Says:
    September 18th, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Funny, this is my new favorite mac and cheese recipe, and my fondest memory may actually be making 4 batches of it for my son’s birthday this summer! That was A LOT of cheese sauce for a cheese addict!

  5. Nupur Says:
    September 18th, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    My mother made a mac and cheese with tomato (which is a good memory in itself), but the most wonderful thing is she often served it for breakfast!!!!

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