Macaroni and Cheese
1 pound elbow macaroni
6 slices white bread, crust removed and torn into small pieces
2 tablespoons melted butter
5 1/2 cups milk
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 cups cheddar cheese, grated
1 1/2 cups Gruyère cheese, grated
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup grated Gruyère cheese for topping
cold sour cream (optional)
Cook the macaroni in lots of salted boiling water, removing from heat 3-4 minutes before the end of cooking time stated in package directions. Drain. Toss the bread pieces in the melted butter; set aside. Bring the milk just to the boil. Remove from heat.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan or high-sided skillet. Add the flour and cook for a few minutes, mixing with a wooden spoon. Switch to wire whisk and slowly stir in the hot milk. Cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until smooth and thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in salt, pepper, nutmeg, cayenne pepper and cheeses. Combine the cheese sauce with the macaroni; mix thoroughly.
Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Butter a 3-quart casserole or baking dish. Transfer the macaroni mixture to prepared dish. Sprinkle with the remaining cheeses and bread pieces. Bake until browned on top, about 30-40 minutes. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, if desired. Serves 12.
Note: Giada de Laurentiis has an interesting "cupcake" version of Mac and Cheese. She fills buttered muffin or cupcake tins 2/3 full with the macaroni mixture, places a few pieces of chopped tomato, bacon or ham and broccoli florets on top then sprinkles them with breadcrumbs and bakes them for about 20 minutes. I'm planning to make them for a family reunion. Will post the recipe and directions if they're as good as they look.