Often, baked mac and cheese looks creamy and gooey before you put it in the oven but, by the time it's done cooking, it's dry. Here's my solution: Purposefully undercook your pasta in the boiling water and use a lot more cheese sauce (aka Mornay sauce) than you'd think. After about 15 minutes in the oven, followed by a couple more minutes beneath the broiler, the mac and cheese comes out creamy as can be, with perfectly cooked noodles. —Josh Cohen
- Prep time 15 minutes
- Cook time 30 minutes
- Serves 4 to 6
plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
aged provolone, grated
4 1/2 ounces
asiago fresco, grated
4 1/2 ounces
Kosher salt, to taste
cavatappi (or your favorite short, tubular pasta shape)
fresh mozzarella, grated
- Set a large pot of water over high heat (this will be for the pasta). While you wait for that to boil, set another large pot over medium heat and melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk for 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk while whisking consistently. When you begin to add the milk, a paste will form. Keep adding milk and whisk until totally smooth, with no lumps. Simmer until the sauce begins to thicken to the consistency of thin gravy.
- When the sauce has started to thicken, reduce the heat to low and add in the provolone, asiago, and fontina cheese. Stir until all the cheese has melted. Taste and adjust the salt accordingly. Keep it warm over the lowest-possible heat and turn on the oven to 450°F.
- By now your water should be boiling. Add salt so that your pasta water tastes like a highly seasoned soup broth. Cook the pasta for half the time suggested on the box. (You want to undercook your pasta here, because it will keep cooking in the oven.)
- Drain the pasta, add to your cheese sauce, and stir. Transfer the pasta and sauce to a large, shallow baking dish. The more surface area, the more crispy bits (which are great).
- Sprinkle the fresh mozzarella on top of your pasta and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until you begin to see the sauce bubbling up around the noodles. Now broil the mac and cheese for 1 to 3 minutes, until the mozzarella is brown and crispy. Serve immediately.