Nan's Recipes: Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese

I've been making this recipe all my adult life. It comes from a 1969 Craig Claiborn book called "Kitchen Primer" and was the first macaroni and cheese recipe I ever made. Many times I've tried other recipes all promising to be the best mac and cheese ever but they're always too rich or over the top, too many cheeses, etc. This recipe is simple and just right. I freeze single batch portions to heat up when I need a quick dinner.

1/2 pound (8 oz.) elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups hot milk
1 teaspoon salt or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (or less, opt.)
2 cups of diced good quality sharp cheddar
2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cook macaroni according to directions being careful not to overcook. Pour into a colander and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.
Melt the butter then stir in flour. Cook a few minutes until lightly browned. Whisk in about 1/2 cup milk, stirring rapidly, then slowly add the rest of the milk. Bring to a low boil stirring constantly. When thickened and smooth, remove from heat. Add salt, nutmeg, and cayenne if using and stir, then add in cheddar cubes.
Butter a 2 quart baking dish. Add 1/3 of the macaroni, then 1/3 the sauce, then repeat two times ending with the sauce. Sprinkle the top with parmesan and dot with butter if desired.
Bake about 1/2 hour until bubbling and golden brown.

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