Macaroni and Cheese: 52 Recipes, from Simple to Sublime
by Joan Schwartz

Photo-Adam @ Sliceny.comGothamist knows it's been a rough couple weeks. Many of us have been drowning our sorrows in liquor and cupcakes. But, as Joe Klein foretold over a year ago, what we're really hungry for following is some macaroni and cheese. Not, however, as a metaphor, for Gephardt or otherwise (though we'd be happy with him as our president!), but actual, gooey, rich, salty, macaroni and cheese. Like fondue without all the bite-by-bite preparation.

One of our favorite mac&cheese recipes to make is from the now-defunct Matthew Kenney restaurant Canteen (now home of Lure). Rachel Lusty Lady reports that it used to cost $25/serving; this costs about $30 to make an entire casserole. It's pretty fast to make if you have a food processor (or kids! Gothamist was always enlisted to shred cheese when we were growing up!). This recipe has a great crunchy top and complex, creamy flavors inside--very few can resist.

2004_11_food_maccheesebook.JPGHaving an entire cookbook just for macaroni and cheese seems indulgent, until you realize that, if you are addicted to Canteen's mac, this is the only way you'll get it. In addition to traditional mac & cheese recipes from Mitchel London, the Soho Grand, City Bakery, Home Restaurant, Fairway, Chat & Chew, Comfort Diner, and City Hall, the book also features international mac recipes and modern mac recipes (like Katy Sparks' Macaroni with Many Cheeses in a Red Chile-Herb Crust and Rocco DeSpirito's Macaroni & Cheese Croquettes-which remind us of the state fair fried mac&cheese we heard about earlier this year.) There is even mac & cheese dessert!

Gothamist has also achieved mac & cheese success with the mac in Marian Burros' Cooking for Comfort, as well as the Macaroni and Blue Cheese with Chives from Seattle's Blue Onion Bistro.

Equipment you'll need:

Food processor or grater
Pot for boiling pasta
3 qt. saucepan for making cheese sauce
Casserole dish or small gratin dishes if you're being fancy.
Whisk (this one is good for making sure the sauce doesn't stick)

Groceries

7 tablespoons butter, plus extra for the gratin dishes and for the top
1 pound Cavatelli
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1 quart whole milk
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Dash of Tabasco
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 cups (1/2 pound) grated aged Wisconsin Asiago cheese
1 cup (1/4 pound) grated sharp white Cheddar cheese
1 1/3 cups (about 5 1/3 ounces)grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/3 cup minced fresh chives
1 cup panko or regular bread crumbs


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter six individual gratin dishes or one big casserole dish.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over hlgh heat and cook the pasta until al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain and cool.

3. While the water boils and the pasta cooks, grate the cheese. Set aside 1/3 cup of the parmigiano-reggiano and mix it with the panko or breadcrumbs, and voila! the topping is done.

4. In the saucepan, over moderately low heat, melt 6 tablespoons of the butter. Add the flour and cook, stirring, 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk and raise the heat to high. When the milk begins to boil, reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened. If the flour/milk mixture sticks to the bottom, leave it there or else you'll have burned lumps in the sauce. Remove from the heat and add the mustard, cayenne, Tabasco, Worcestershire, & salt & pepper. Then add all the cheese and stir it in until it's melted, add the herbs and stir till combined.

5. Return the pasta to the pot it was boiled in. Pour the sauce back on top and stir it up. Then either fill up your casserole dish or your gratin dishes, and sprinkle with the topping. Dot lightly with the rest of the butter and bake on the middle shelf until the crumbs are lightly brown, the sauce is bubbling, and your mouth is watering., about 30 minutes.

Gothamist recommends serving with ham and peas for dinner, with brownies for dessert. because that's what we used to eat, um, 20 years ago.