I make my own bread crumbs from toasted sour dough bread just whirled in the food processor. I like a little texture to them. I don’t like how fine the kind you can buy already made at the market.
The original recipe calls for a combination of 4 1/2 cups of White Cheddar and 2 cups of Gruyere or Pecorino Romano cheeses. I have made this recipe countless time using a combo of White Cheddar and Gruyere. It’s amazingly wonderful that way. The blend of cheeses offers a complex and interesting taste. The problem is that while it’s baking it doesn’t smell so wonderful. In fact it just might smell a little stinky. That smell doesn’t play well with my kids. The White Cheddar is fabulous but I honestly miss the iconic color of yellow cheese that signals my brain that all kinds of mac and cheese deliciousness is headed my way! So to resolve this, I now use a combo of Sharp Yellow Cheddar and Sharp White Cheddar.
- 8 Tablespoons (1 Stick) - Unsalted Butter
- 2 Cups - Dry Bread Crumbs
- 1/4 Cups - Parmesan Cheese, Grated
- 1/2 Teaspoons - Dried Thyme Leaves
- 5 1/2 Cups - Whole Milk
- 1/2 Cup - All Purpose Flour
- 2 Teaspoons - Salt
- 1/4 Teaspoon - Ground Nutmeg
- 1/4 Teaspoon - Ground Black Pepper
- 1/4 Teaspoon - Cayenne Pepper
- 4 1/2 Cups Divided - Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Shredded
- 2 Cups - Sharp White Cheddar Cheese, Shredded
- 1 Pound - Dried Elbow Pasta
- Heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and dried thyme leaves in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour butter into bowl with bread mixture, and toss. Set breadcrumbs aside.
- In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, whisking, 1 minute.
- While whisking, slowly pour in hot milk. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.
- Remove pan from heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups Sharp Cheddar Cheese, and 1 1/2 cups Sharp White Cheddar Cheese; set cheese sauce aside.
- Fill a large saucepan with water; bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 minutes less than manufacturer's directions, until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone. (Different brands of macaroni cook at different rates; be sure to read the instructions.) Transfer macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.
- Pour mixture into prepared dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups Sharp Cheddar Cheese, 1/2 cup Sharp White Cheddar Cheese, and breadcrumbs over top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool 5 minutes; serve hot.