Recipes

Mac & Cheese with Sage Butter Breadcrumbs


6 servings

For those who prefer macaroni and cheese with a greater ratio of crunchy topping to creamy center, we suggest dividing the macaroni and cheese between two 3-quart shallow baking dishes and doubling the topping recipe, dividing it between the baking dishes

3/4 pound elbow macaroni

For topping
4  tablespoons butter, melted mixed with 2 tbsp. chopped fresh sage                                                                                                                                                       2 cups toasted dry bread crumbs
FOR CHEESE SAUCE                                                                                                                                                                                                                       3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper and 1/8 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
3 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 cups coarsely grated extra-sharp Cheddar (about 1 pound)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400EF. and butter a 3-quart shallow baking dish. Fill a 6-quart kettle three fourths full with salted water and bring to a boil for macaroni.

Make topping: Melt butter and stir together with sage and bread crumbs.  Topping may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.

Make sauce: In a 5-quart heavy saucepan melt butter over moderately low heat and stir in flour and cayenne pepper. Cook roux, stirring, 3 minutes and whisk in milk. Bring sauce to a boil, whisking constantly, and simmer, whisking occasionally, 3 minutes. Stir in cream, Cheddar, mustard, salt, and pepper. Remove pan from heat and cover surface of sauce with wax paper.

Cook macaroni in boiling water until al dente.

Reserve 1 cup cooking water and drain macaroni in colander. In a large bowl stir together macaroni, reserved cooking water, and sauce. Transfer mixture to baking dish. Sprinkle topping evenly over macaroni and bake in middle of oven 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden and bubbling.

Sprinkle topping evenly over macaroni and bake in middle of oven 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden and bubbling.