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Classic Macaroni and Cheese

Classic Macaroni and Cheese METRO Photo

By Barbara Beltrami

My mother never made macaroni and cheese so when I was a kid it was Franco-American straight out of the can. In my young adulthood I made macaroni and cheese for my kids from the Kraft package which included the elbow macaroni and a little packet of powdery grated American cheese to which, if I remember correctly, I added milk and butter. 

Now that the kids are all grown up and I need the calories and cholesterol from macaroni and cheese like a hole in the head, I’ve suddenly awakened to real mac and cheese (during the Covid incarceration, of course). It was lobster mac and cheese that did it. And then the other day my friend suggested a mac and cheese column. So here it is and to hell with the calories and the cholesterol!

Classic Macaroni and Cheese

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings


1 pound curly macaroni

Salt to taste

1 tablespoon oil

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup flour

4 cups milk

Freshly ground pepper to taste

3/4 pound freshly grated sharp white cheddar cheese

3/4 pound freshly grated fontina cheese

1 teaspoon cayenne


Cook macaroni in a large pot of boiling salted water until just barely al dente. Drain, toss with oil and set aside. Preheat oven to 425 F. In a medium pot, heat butter over medium heat; whisk in flour, and continuing to whisk constantly, cook until flour starts to foam and turn golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk, then salt and pepper and still whisking, bring to a simmer. Add grated cheese, whisk until completely melted, add cayenne and cooked pasta and stir well. Transfer mixture to a 9 x 13” baking dish, place on baking sheet to catch any drippings and bake until top starts to crisp and sides are bubbly, about 20 to 30 minutes. Serve hot with a tossed salad.

Four Cheese Mac and Cheese

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings


1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 pound curly macaroni

6 ounces Robiola, rind removed, cheese diced

4 ounces goat cheese, diced

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup mascarpone

2/3 cup grated Pecorino

Freshly ground white pepper to taste

Scant 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg


Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter a two-quart casserole dish. Cook macaroni according to package directions, drain and immediately transfer to large bowl and toss with Robiola and goat cheese until they are melted. In another bowl whisk together the eggs, mascarpone and Pecorino; stir into macaroni mixture, add pepper and nutmeg, stir. Transfer mixture to prepared casserole dish; bake until golden and bubbly. Serve immediately with a tomato and onion salad.

Lobster Mac and Cheese

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings


2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup pureed cottage cheese

2 cups milk

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 cups (packed) grated extra sharp white cheddar

1/2 pound curly macaroni, cooked half the time indicated on package and drained

Meat from 2-pound cooked lobster, cut into bite-size pieces

2  to 3 tablespoons bottled clam juice


Preheat oven to 375 F; place rack in upper third of oven. Grease a 9 x 13” baking dish with one tablespoon of the butter. In an electric blender or food processor, puree together the cottage cheese, milk, mustard, cayenne, nutmeg and salt and pepper. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and stir in cheddar and pasta, then pour into baking dish. Cover tightly with foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove from oven, stir in lobster meat and clam juice, dot with remaining butter and return, uncovered, to oven. Bake another 30 minutes until golden and bubbly; remove from oven, let sit 10 minutes, then serve hot with a chilled dry crisp white wine and arugula and endive salad.