Cook's Illustrated Classic Macaroni and Cheese



6 slices white sandwich bread (hearty and torn into rough pieces)

3 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold and cut into 6 pieces)

1 lb elbow macaroni

table salt

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

6 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

5 cups milk

8 ounces monterey jack cheese, shredded

8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded


Make this with or without the crumb topping.

1. For the bread-crumb topping: Pulse bread and butter in food processor until crumbs are about 1/8 inch, ten to fifteen 1-second pulses. Set aside.

2. For the pasta and cheese: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat broiler.

3. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in Dutch oven over high heat.

4. Add macaroni and 1 tablespoon salt. Cook until pasta is tender. Drain pasta and set aside in colander.

5. In now-empty Dutch oven, heat butter over medium-high heat until foaming.

6. Add flour, mustard, and cayenne and whisk well to combine.

7. Continue whisking until mixture becomes fragrant and deepens in color, about 1 minute.

8. Gradually whisk in milk and bring mixture to a boil, whisking constantly (mixture must reach full boil to fully thicken).

9. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened to consistency of heavy cream, about 5 minutes.

10. Off heat, whisk in cheeses and 1 teaspoon salt until cheeses are fully melted.

11. Add pasta and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is steaming and heated through, about 6 minutes.

12. Transfer mixture to broiler-safe 13x9 inch baking dish and sprinkle evenly with bread crumbs.

13. Broil until crumbs are deep golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes, rotating pan if necessary for even browning.

14. Cool about 5 minutes, then serve.


Serving Size: 1 (306 g)
Servings Per Recipe: 8
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value
Calories 706.6
Calories from Fat 335 48%
Total Fat 37.3 g 57%
Saturated Fat 22.8 g 114%
Cholesterol 108.5 mg 36%
Sodium 513.4 mg 21%
Total Carbohydrate 63.4 g 21%
Dietary Fiber 2.5 g 9%
Sugars 2.7 g 10%
Protein 29 g 58%