If you have an ounce of Southern mettle in you, then macaroni and cheese has got to be near and dear to your culinary heart.
It is a near perfect pairing of simple things we love, cheese, pasta and butter. Many people grow up with the packaged variety that requires you to only boil the pasta, add the package of dried cheese and milk. Kids seem to prefer this variety, but for discerning adults, homemade is always better.
A really good macaroni and cheese, a gratin really, is not hard to make, and is delicious, not terribly expensive and is soul-satisfying like few other foods.
Is it healthy? Let's not even go there. But a food as good as this just can't be completely well-rounded. Let's go with four out of five, OK?
GREAT MACARONI AND CHEESE
1 pound elbow mac
1 quart whole milk
1 stick unsalted AA butter
1/2 cup flour
2 cups sharp cheddar
4 cups Gruyere
Salt and pepper
2 cups panko bread crumbs
Prepare the noodles according to package directions, drain, but do not rinse. Heat the milk in a sauce pan, add 2/3 of the butter, whisk in the flour and simmer until thick. Add the cheese, season and melt. In a separate pan melt the remaining butter, add the panko, and stir to coat the breadcrumbs. Add more butter if necessary, cook until starting to brown. Combine the noodles and cheese sauce in an oven proof pan, top with the buttered panko and bake at 350 f until bubbly. Serve hot.