I don't know what it is about rainy days, but it just makes me crave comfort food. So, after St. Louis got pummeled from the remnants of Hurricane Ike, I knew exactly what we needed. Mac & Cheese. Once again, I turned to my new cookbook Everyday Food: Great Food Fast.
The recipe calls for a combo of yellow Cheddar and white Cheddar cheese. But, like Emeril, I decided to kick it up a notch and used Hot Habanero Cheddar Cheese and Seriously Sharp Cheddar Cheese by Cabot. The habanero cheese features habanero and jalapeño peppers...and it is hot! Because of this, I left out the cayenne pepper the recipe called for. If you like, use just one type of Cheddar and mix with another melting cheese, such as pepper Jack, Muenster, Swiss or mozzarella.
Mac & Cheese
1 pound elbow pasta
4 tbls. butter
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup all purpose flour
4 cups milk
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) shredded yellow Cheddar cheese
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) shredded white Cheddar cheese
Course salt and fresh ground pepper
2 slices white bread
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions; drain and reserve. Meanwhile, in a 5-quart heavy pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3-5 minutes. Whisk in the flour to coat the onion. In a slow, steady stream, whisk in the milk until there are no lumps.
2. Cook, whisking often, until the mixture is thick and bubbly and coats the back of a wooden spoon. 6-8 minutes. Stir in the cayenne, if using, and 1 cup each of the yellow and white Cheddar cheese. Season with 1 tsp. of salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.
3. Toss the pasta with the cheese mixture. Transfer to a 9x13 baking dish. Set aside.
4. In a food processor, pulse the bread until large crumbs form. Toss together with the remaining 1/4 cup each cheese, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Top the pasta with the breadcrumb mixture. Bake until the top is golden, about 30 minutes.