What to CookMacaroni and Cheese

Martha Stewart's Genius Mac & Cheese Is What We're Bringing to Every Summer BBQ

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As Food52 gets older (and wiser), and our archive of recipes grows, we’re making the effort to revisit some good-as-gold recipes. Today, we're highlighting a home-run mac and cheese from Martha Stewart.

I’ve never met a mac and cheese I didn’t love—from velvety noodles swimming in sauce to sheet pans of crisped up pasta. Even the cheese-ish kind that comes from a box makes my heart flutter. But there’s one recipe that stands out above the rest, a creation that’s rich and buttery and creamy throughout: Martha Stewart’s Genius Macaroni and Cheese.

We first highlighted Stewart’s masterpiece back in 2011, staking the claim that this was a macaroni masterpiece the world was searching for. Her secret? The béchamel.

The simple silky sauce is what ties this dish together, said Genius columnist Kristen Miglore when she first shared the recipe:

Skip it and the cheese inevitably toughens and the grease breaks free. (A notable exception: Amanda's truly genius baking sheet mac and cheese, which cooks quickly enough not to destroy the tenuous impromptu cheese sauce.) Resort to American cheese or Velveeta and sure, you lock down creaminess, but along with it comes that tongue-coating nacho cheez stickiness that has no place on a noodle. (Both of these are actually "cheese food," emulsified with water and a lot of ingredients we laypeople don't understand.)

Sharp cheddar and earthy Gruyère melt beautifully into the mixture of butter, flour, and cream, forming a smooth sauce that coats each noodle. And don’t worry about making too much. The dish goes into the oven quite soup-like, which keeps the pasta from drying out.

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To shield the gooey bottom, Stewart instructs cooks to forgo breadcrumbs for mighty chunks of buttery bread. The top then bronzes into a delicate crouton crust, sealing up the creaminess within.

Sure, there are easier mac and cheeses out there. But none of them are quite as Genius.

Martha Stewart's Macaroni and Cheese

Martha Stewart's Macaroni and Cheese

Genius Recipes Genius Recipes
Serves 12
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for dish
  • 6 slices good white bread, crusts removed, torn or diced into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces
  • 5 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 4 1/2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese (about 18 ounces)
  • 2 cups grated Gruyere cheese (about 8 ounces) or 1 1/4 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese (about 5 ounces)
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni (or other small pasta shape)
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What does your perfect macaroni and cheese look like? Share all your cheesy dreams in the comments below!

Tags: Videos, Genius Recipes