Baked Mac and Cheese
Courtesy of Executive Chef Matthew Kajdan of Estelle Wine Bar
1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni shells or cavatappi
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk (not skim)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups shredded cheese (Sharp cheddar, Swiss, or any other preferred cheese)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Bring a pot of water to a boil; add generous sprinkling of salt to the pasta. While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a skillet or a pot large enough to hold the pasta when it's done. Add the flour and stir over medium heat until the mixture is lightly browned; 1 to 2 minutes. Add the milk and whisk to remove any lumps and add the salt and pepper.
Cook over medium-high heat until the sauce thickens and starts to bubble, about 6 minutes. Stir in the cheese and whisk until smooth and melted. Turn off the heat.
When the pasta is almost done but still firm, drain it and add to the sauce. Stir the pasta into the sauce and bake in a greased 2-quart dish (or an 8-by-8 pan) for 20 to 25 minutes until browned and bubbly.
You can also skip baking it if you want it super creamy and just put it under the broiler to brown the top.