Classic Mac & Cheese


Classic Mac & Cheese  |  Spinach Salad with Green Apples

Intro Collage


What are comfort foods? They are foods that soothe the psyche by reminding us of comforting childhood memories. For most of us, these foods are far from gourmet and generally epitomize home cooking. They invoke feelings of nostalgia, safety, and security.  ~ Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, Guide

With October’s arrival each year, I find myself returning to those foods that not only have a wonderful seasonal taste but also satisfy a sense of nostalgia.  Maybe it is a result of the shortening days, cooler temperatures, changing leaves, a dwindling garden or simply the realization of holidays approaching but, after months of savoring the outdoors, my attention turns inside, into the kitchen and cooking foods whose tastes and smells cultivate memories old and new.

In a reader’s poll, conducted by to identify the Top 25 Favorite American Comfort Foods, macaroni and cheese found it’s place in the top ten category.  Sharing the spotlight were dishes such as meatloaf, mashed potatoes, pot roast and, fried chicken while peanut butter & jelly and grilled cheese sandwiches took top honors.  While I rarely find myself craving this cheesy pasta dish, I must admit to an overwhelming sense of satisfaction from the first bite. After all, what’s not to like? A silky béchamel sauce transforms freshly shredded sharp cheddar and Gruyère cheeses into a pale orange velvet blanket that envelops hearty pasta noodles, all of which is then baked under a golden topping of  crunchy breadcrumbs seasoned with fresh chives and grated parmesan.  Opposites work in unison here…creamy cheese sauce with crunchy bread topping, salty cheese with sweet milk and butter…to create this classic comfort dish.  A favorite of children and adults alike.

For tonight’s dinner, I adapted a recipe from Joy The Baker and it is classic in it’s simplicity.  While other recipes have tried to dress up this dish from child’s fare to adult gourmet by incorporating ingredients such as nutmeg, truffle oil and fancy-shaped pasta {which can better accept and hold the cheesy sauce} this version celebrates the traditional.  Elbow macaroni serves as the foundation…


The cheese sauce begins with preparing a classic roux {melted butter and flour}…


Into which hot milk is poured to create a béchamel {french white sauce}.  Freshly grated sharp cheddar and Gruyère cheeses are then added to the béchamel…


Once the cheese has become fully incorporated into the sauce, the pasta is added…

Pasta & Cheese Sauce Collage

The creamy macaroni & cheese can be enjoyed at this point or, as we did this evening, further baked under a topping of breadcrumbs seasoned with freshly chopped chives and grated parmesan…

Seasoned Breadcrumbs Collage

The macaroni & cheese {with topping} ready to go into the oven…



The salad I chose to for this evening’s dinner is a combination of spinach and tart apples sprinkled with toasted walnuts…flavors which complemented the rich pasta.  The dressing was a simple mixture of olive oil, apple cider vinegar and Dijon mustard.  You can click here for the recipe from Ellie Krieger which I followed exactly.


Our dinner plate this evening…



Classic Mac & Cheese with Parmesan~Chive Breadcrumb Topping {adapted from Joy the Baker} Serves 6-8

For the Béchamel:

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • freshly~ cracked black pepper

For the Mac & Cheese:

  • 1 pound dried elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups grated  sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup grated Gruyère cheese

For the Parmesan~Breadcrumb Topping:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 bunch chives {about 1/3 cup}, finely chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Prepare the béchamel…heat the milk until it almost begins to boil.  Remove from heat and pour into a large liquid measuring cup.  Set aside.
  3. In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat.  Once melted, add the flour and whisk constantly until the mixture turns light brown, about 3 minutes.  Remove from the heat.
  4. Slowly pour in milk 1 cup at a time, whisking constantly.  The mixture will begin to thicken once the first cup is added, but will thin out as all of the milk is added.
  5. Return pot to medium heat and whisk constantly for 2 to 3 minutes as the sauce thickens.  Sauce will become silky and thick.  To test the thickness, dip a metal spoon into the sauce.  If the sauce coats the spoon and doesn’t look translucent or slide off the spoon like milk, it’s done!  Stir in salt and pepper.
  6. Remove from heat.
  7. Stir in cheddar and gruyere cheese.  Stir until cheese is melted and thoroughly combined.  Taste and season accordingly.  Cover the sauce and keep warm.
  8. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente.  Drain, rinse the pasta in cold water, and drain again.
  9. Add the cooked pasta to the warm sauce.  Serve immediately, or place in an oven proof dish {coated with butter or non-stick cooking spray} and set aside.
  10.  In a small glass bowl, melt butter in the microwave.  Remove the bowl from the microwave and add breadcrumbs, parmesan and chives.  Combine with a fork until thoroughly mixed and no lumps remain.  Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over macaroni & cheese
  11. Cook macaroni & cheese with breadcrumb topping in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until topping turns golden brown.  Remove dish from oven and serve immediately.

K Initial


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Print Friendly

Post Your Comment