You know you want it. Chefs tell me their customers demand it all the time. When I crave a rich, cheesy, creamy macaroni and cheese, I reach for the cheddar and a bag of elbow macaroni. You don't need to buy anything fancy; no bronze-die pedigree required. For this one I used supermarket large elbow macaroni, and it could not have been better. Yup, crazy-good. (Ding! Ding! Ding!)
It's simple and luxurious, and really easy to make. Boil up and drain the macaroni till al dente. Use the same pot to sweat chopped onion in butter, sprinkle on a little flour and cook it briefly. Stir in milk and cook a few minutes to make a white sauce. Stir in grated cheese, seasonings and the mac. Turn it all into a buttered baking dish, top with bread crumbs, dot the top with butter and bake in a hot oven till golden-brown.
You can riff on the recipe, adding ham or roasted chiles or crumbled bacon or whatever, but I'm a mac and cheese purist. Sharp cheddar is the cheese of choice (with a little Parm), but you can mix that up, too, throw in some Gruyère, if you're feeling French. Go ahead: Treat yourself. You deserve it.
When I'm in the mood to indulge, a perfect dinner is a simple arugula salad, this classic, luscious mac and cheese and a glass of red wine. Right?
Here's the recipe: