I love so many recipes from our Newlywed cookbook and was waiting for an opportunity to make this dish. It is very grown up and I guarantee you that none of the kids in my family would eat this. No hate to the blue box, but here the fresh cheeses and addition of mustard elevate it to a very flavorful and fancy mac. One of my best friends has never met a mac and cheese she didn't immediately befriend, and I made this for her and her family after suffering a loss about a month ago. I'm looking forward to a happier occasion when I can make this again because it is top notch cheesy tastiness.
The recipe from the book calls for:
10 oz pasta
4 tablespoons (half a stick) butter
2 tsp flour
1 1/2 tsp dry mustard *
1 tsp warm water (* I combined these two into a teaspoon of Dijon mustard)
1 1/2 cups milk (NOT skim)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar
1 1/2 cups grated Gruyère
3 slices Muenster cheese (I left this out)
Freshly ground black pepper
Cook the pasta until it is just al dente and drain. I use cavatappi pasta because it's pretty and it also holds onto hearty sauces really well.
In the same pot, make a roux to start the cheese sauce. A roux is butter and flour cooked together and helps thicken a sauce.
The recipe calls for the water + dry mustard to be added here, but instead I added a teaspoon of Dijon mustard along with the milk. Just like when I added this to caramelized onion pie, I find that this was the critical component. Whisk until it's smooth, then cover until it thickens slightly. Whisk in the eggs, a pinch of salt, and cayenne and stir consistently (but slowly) until the sauce thickens. I also grated some fresh nutmeg into the sauce because I absolutely love nutmeg in creamy sauces. It doesn't taste Christmas-y but just adds another dimension of flavor - it was fantastic with the cayenne and mustard.
Stir in the shredded cheeses over low heat. Remove from heat after the cheese is half melted and continue stirring until all the cheese is melted.
I poured all of the pasta directly into the pot and stirred to cover with the sauce. Then I transferred the cheesy macaroni to an oven safe dish. The recipe calls for you to lay the sliced Muenster over the top but again, I skipped this part. I used disposable foil dish with a cover - I never bring food in a Give Back dish. At this point, I just covered the dish and brought it with me to their apartment. Once there, people scooped it into bowls and would heat in the microwave and it was perfect.
Ok, I tasted a bit before I brought it over.
Getting cornichons out of jars, whisking one egg at a time, stealing stealth bites of Grown Up Mac - these mini forks are super handy.