Makes 6 Large Servings
Hands-On Time: About 30 Minutes
Total Preparation Time: 55 Minutes
1 qt whole milk
6 T (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
6 T unbleached all-purpose flour
8 oz assorted cheese (See Note)
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 t dry mustard
1 t Tabasco sauce
1 pound elbow macaroni
Freshly ground black pepper
Crumbled bacon, sautéed or slow roasted cherry tomatoes
Crisp white, such as a Chardonnay
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Heat the milk in a large saucepan over medium heat until it is hot.
2. Melt the butter over medium-low heat in a medium saucepan. Add the flour and cook, whisking, for 5 minutes. Whisk in the hot milk in a stream; bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Coarsely shred, cut up or crumble the cheeses and whisk them into the milk mixture. Whisk together the Worcestershire, mustard, Tabasco and 1 teaspoon salt and whisk into the sauce. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until the cheeses have melted; keep the cheese sauce warm.
4. When the pot of water come to a boil, add the macaroni. Cook until al dente, following the package directions. Drain the macaroni, return it to the pot, and add the cheese sauce. Stir well, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve. Or set aside for 5 to 10 minutes and let the mixture firm up before serving.
Note: Hard cheeses and semihard cheeses such as Cheddar, Monterey Jack and Swiss should be coarsely grated; soft cheese such as Brie, goat, and cream cheese should be cut up or crumbled. The mix should include some flavorful cheeses; if all the cheeses are bland, the macaroni and cheese will be bland. If desired, the amount of cheese can be increased by 4 ounces.
The right tool for making a gravy or cream sauce, anything that is thickened with flour, is a flat whisk. It enables you to get into the corners of the pan. You can find them in any kitchenware store.